A hometown newspaper with a local office, local owners & lots of local news

Band is the hit in this year's parade

The Cloquet Community Band will be the grand marshal of the Cloquet Fourth of July parade next week.

The volunteer band will still play in the parade, like they have every July Fourth parade held over the past 25 years — including two years ago, when the parade was canceled due to lightning. They had to head back to a garage in the West End of Cloquet anyway, so the band and the VFW float “made a parade of two” going down Cloquet Avenue, said music director Lynne Putzke.

“The people who were still enjoying the coffee and donuts at Nelson Funeral Home came out and cheered us on,” Putzke said at the time.

Cloquet has a decorated city band history dating back to at least the early 1900s. Even before World War I, according to “A Hometown Album: Cloquet’s Centennial Story,” Cloquet boasted “a first class city band and the local Finnish population also fielded an imposing brass band,” with many of the musicians performing in both bands, Steve Korby wrote in a column last year.

The latest iteration — officially the Cloquet Community Band — was formed in 1999 by Jody Meyer and Dick Rollefson.

Band president Becky Dooley said they have 13 members now, half the number the band boasted before the pandemic.

“When Covid hit, we didn’t play for a couple years,” Dooley said.

“We lost about half our members.”

Asked why they play during practice Monday, “It’s a lot of fun” was a popular answer.

“It keeps you young,” said Dr. Dave Luehr. “It’s been medically proven.”

Joan Heimsness is continuing a family tradition and plays her father’s horn. “He was in the farmers’ band out in North Dakota,” Heimsness said, calculating that her dad, Orville, played around 1918.

All are welcome to join the band. It doesn’t matter where one lives, they just have to be willing to commit to practicing most Monday nights 7-8:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church (47 Fourth St.) in Cloquet, except for part of December and January, when they take a break.

“You’ve learned and played your instrument for so many years: during grade school, middle school and high school, even college and military for some people,” Meyer said. “You just hate to put all that training and fun aside and stick your instrument in the closet to collect dust.”

The band has members from Duluth, Sturgeon Lake, Barnum, Carlton, Cromwell and Cloquet. All ages are welcome, and it doesn’t matter how recently one has played.

Dooley is proof of that.

“I hadn’t played my clarinet for 42 years when I joined four years ago, so I had to relearn and get my mouth in shape,” Dooley said. “But I really enjoy playing and challenging myself. And I enjoy the people, the camaraderie.”

They perform a wide range of events and music, including marches, show tunes and patriotic songs. They’re working on a couple of historic pieces. One of those, “Prince Rudolph,” was written in 1940 by Cloquet City Band director Louis D. Gerin in honor of Cloquet industry leader Rudolph Weyerhaeuser, who had donated $2,500 toward the new bandshell at Pinehurst Park.

The Cloquet Community Band plays in both the July Fourth and Labor Day parades each year, as well as the Memorial Day service in Veterans Park. They are featured in the college music series each summer, although that’s on hiatus this year due to construction. They hold at least two concerts — one in the spring, another in December — yearly at the Presbyterian Church.

“The church has amazing acoustics,” said Dooley of their home base, where they rent a music room.

The band will play in a variety show at the Scott House in August and in the West End celebration in September.

“We play at local nursing homes; the Evergreen residents love that old-time music,” Dooley said. “If we get requests, we try to work them into the schedule.”

The band is seeking new members. They encourage students to come, recent grads, retirees and others. There are snowbirds who play in the warmer months. Wyatt Line, a college student at Concordia, joined the band for the summer.

“I play euphonium along with three other marvelous euphonium players,” Line said. “No trombones, but we still make the low brass strong.”

“Some of us are playing trombone parts because we don’t have a trombone,” Luehr said.

They adjust to make it work.

“Sue thought the brass had more fun, so she gave up the flute,” a bandmate chimed in to laughter.

They’re a happy bunch. Maybe it’s all the music.

“We’re all still smiling because we’re happy to be the grand marshal,” Putzke said.

If you have played an instrument and are considering joining, check out the band in the July Fourth parade. Contact Becky Dooley at 218-206-4441 or just show up at a practice. The band provides sheet music,

and you bring your instrument.


Current Cloquet Community Band members include:

Jody Meyer

Beth Denny

Sue Chapin

Lynne Putzke

Becky Dooley

Walt Collman

Joan Heimsness

Jane Anderson

Dave Luehr

Craig McRae

Keith Chapin

Ken Etterman

Wyatt Line

Carl Provost

Call Becky Dooley at 218-206-4441 to join.