Harry's Gang: Annual four-day break is welcome in our house


October 15, 2021

There’s nothing like a random four-day weekend for kids from school. Education Minnesota weekend is coming up next weekend and it’s a treat for students and for many parents, who take the opportunity to travel, visit friends and family, and do other holiday-type things without the burden of an actual holiday. It’s great.

I know a handful of teachers. Not one of them, when asked, is planning to use the four-day weekend for anything other than “personal development.” None plan to attend Education Minnesota events, the reason for the long weekend in the first place. Yes, teacher contracts explicitly require most schools in Minnesota to close Thursday and Friday next week so teachers can attend a convention or participate in professional development courses designed to make teachers better. Hardly anyone actually does so. “Personal development” probably accomplishes the same goals, I guess.

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I have always found it peculiar that teachers need to take time off during the school year to hold their annual convention. Why can’t they do it during the summer, when it won’t interrupt the school year? The argument is, I guess, that many teachers have other activities in the summer that make it difficult for them to attend conventions. But hardly anyone attends the convention in October, either, so that’s not a great argument. I’d suggest that teachers view summer as Their Time, much as Spicoli learned in the ’80s movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” We can’t infringe on Their Time. That’s fair, I suppose.

Still, I love the fall break. It’s the perfect time for a family event of some kind, as long as both parents can get time off from work. This year, some of my older siblings are coming to help me finish the summer’s yardwork, although they don’t know that yet. It will be fun to have them around on a weekday, with very little pressure to exchange presents or attend a parade or something. October yardwork is fun, I intend to tell them, because it’s cooler and thus more pleasant for outdoor manual labor. And the air smells so fresh. I hope I’m persuasive, or I hope for an early snow to cover what doesn’t get done.

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The state holds a special four-day deer hunting season next weekend, for ages 10 to 17. What a great idea. The regular deer season doesn’t start until Nov. 6, but kids are allowed to deer hunt over the four-day weekend with a regular hunting license. No special permits are needed. An adult must accompany those under 13, but they don’t need a license to do so. But I bet most parents who are bringing their kids into the woods to hunt probably plan to get a license, anyway. The special hunt is only for children; adults are not yet allowed to hunt. It’s a great way to let youth have a chance to hunt early and get them involved in the sport, and it’s a great opportunity for hunting parents to spend time with their kids while enjoying the sport themselves.

In the tourism business, it’s common to define the busy season around here as the time between Grandma’s Marathon and what is commonly referred to as MEA weekend. So, expect the roads to be crowded with families visiting northern Minnesota to see the leaves turn colors and enjoy a long weekend in our area. Be polite to them; maybe they’ll come back in the off season. Highway 33 is particularly busy, especially Wednesday evening (heading north) and Sunday evening (heading back).

Some people like to travel to the Twin Cities to get some Big City exposure for their kids this weekend. Steer clear of the St. Paul Civic Center, which may be crowded this weekend, as that’s where the education convention is being held. Just kidding, there’s plenty to do around downtown St. Paul, such as the Science Museum and the Minnesota History Center. My kids and I could spend a whole day at the Science Museum, there’s so much to see and do there. If you do get over to West 7th Street (near the convention), there’s plenty of great restaurants along that stretch.

We also love going to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, with its sculpture garden (and the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry), although I miss the old conservatory, with its indoor garden that was warm and moist no matter how cold it got outside. Some people, I’ve heard, love the Mall of America, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why.

Locally, Jay Cooke is a big draw, especially on Thursday or Friday, and it’s fun to enjoy the events at the Cloquet Public Library. Maybe I’ll take the kids over there while my siblings finish my yardwork? That will be my “personal development.”

Pete Radosevich is the publisher of the Pine Knot News community newspaper and an attorney in Esko who hosts the cable access talk show Harry’s Gang on CAT-7. His opinions are his own. Contact him at [email protected].


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