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Grand opening of Mississippi River Trail takes place amid rain and cold

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An American bald eagle from the Raptor Center of the University of Minnesota eyes the crowd looking at it, seemingly oblivious to the rain. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 9
A woman takes refuge from the rain and elements on a relaxing pedicab ride. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 9
The Kabomelette Food Truck provided food for the entire event. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 9
Dakota County manager Matt Smith addresses the crowd in the rain and cold during the Mississippi River Trail grand opening ceremony at the Spring Lake Park Reserve. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia5 / 9
Right after the ribbon-cutting, the pedicabs took off to take their passengers along the Mississippi River Trail. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia6 / 9
Dakota County Board of Commissioners chairman Mike Slavik thanks all the organizers and those who helped make the section of the Mississippi River Trail possible. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia7 / 9
A fantastic view from Schaar's Bluff Gathering Center in Spring Lake Park Reserve, despite the weather. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia8 / 9
Everyone who came to the event dressed for the weather, showing off layers, rain suits/ponchos and umbrellas as they took in the ceremony. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia9 / 9

The grand opening of the Mississippi River Trail at Spring Lake Park Reserve was held Saturday, May 20, during a cold and wet morning. Despite the weather conditions, almost 100 community members, dignitaries and volunteers showed up for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Hastings' section of the Mississippi River Trail near Schaar's Bluff Gathering Center.

They included Dakota County Manager Matt Smith, Dakota County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Slavik and Dakota County Parks Director Steve Sullivan.

The segment of the trail in Spring Lake Park Reserve is 4.3 miles and opened back in November, but it was decided to postpone the grand opening until May for nicer weather, which drew a chorus of laughs when Slavik explained the reasoning.

The Mississippi River Trail system will span 10 states and approximately 3,000 miles all the way from the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico.

"One of the things in our vision was to create a trail for everyone," Slavik said, "people with different recreational interests and physical abilities, and to provide them with unprecedented access and view of the mighty Mississippi throughout the year. This trail will allow people to bike, rollerblade, hike, and to be able to go and have a picnic or get some outdoor education throughout the trail system."

The event featured several side events and attractions: the speakers and ribbon-cutting ceremony; pedicabs (bikes attached to covered carriages that volunteers pedaled) from Twin Town Pedicabs that took guests around the trail and the park; a turkey vulture and American bald eagle on display from the Raptor Center of the University of Minnesota; bike rentals courtesy of Valley Bike and Ski; and numerous other vendors and food from Kabomelette Food Truck.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a sports reporter and general assignment reporter at the Hastings Star Gazette. He is a journalism graduate of Drake University.

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