Aug. 12 street dance will celebrate lift bridge closure, showcase plans

The Stillwater Lift Bridge closed Aug. 2 and will reopen as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge in 2019. The city of Stillwater plans an Aug. 12 polka party on Chestnut Street to celebrate the redirecting of traffic away from downtown Stillwater. (Gazette staff photo by Jonathan Young)

Stillwater residents have a chance to celebrate the town and show off their polka dancing skills at a street dance Saturday, Aug. 12.

The city is closing down Chestnut Street between the lift bridge and Main Street in order to host an event to celebrate the closure of the lift bridge and the rerouting of commuter traffic away from downtown.

Councilmember Mike Polehna, who is planning the event, said the idea is to invite locals to come downtown again, and the city worked with the Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Stillwater Independent Business Alliance (IBA) on the event.

“People have been scared to come down all these years because of the traffic,” he said. “Well, the bridge is closed. … Now the traffic is gone, and you can maneuver very easily downtown.”

The festivities will include food trucks, a beer garden with Lift Bridge Brewing Co. beer, and music from the band Alpensterne.

The celebration reflects the festivities when the lift bridge opened in 1931 and there was a community dance at the armory. Polehna said the polka dance also hearkens to the popularity of polka in the park during Lumberjack Days festivals of the past.

Having the dance on Chestnut Street allows the city to “test” its plan to convert that portion of the street into a pedestrian plaza, Polehna said.

In addition, the city will show off its downtown plan and the anticipated improvements to the trail system. City staff and representatives of other agencies will have illustrations and be available to talk about the plans, Polehna said.

The event runs 5-10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, on Chestnut Street and in Lowell Park in downtown Stillwater.

“It’s a celebration of Stillwater,” Polehna said. “The traffic has gotten a lot better. Let’s come down and enjoy our city.”

Contact Jonathan Young at [email protected]