Revolutionary! A Brit brings 4th of July fireworks to downtown Northfield

Dan Freeman, Patty Henry 4th July 2010 Norman Butler 
4th July 2010 posterI took this photo of Dan Freeman and postal worker Patty Henry in the doorway of Monkey See Monkey Read yesterday afternoon, pointing to the 4th of July poster in the window.

Dan’s been doing fundraising once again for the 4th of July fireworks and this year, he’s got two fireworks shows for us citizens.  (See the PDF poster for the complete schedule of events, including a change of times for the Kiddie parade and Kiddie carnival.)

Norman Butler, proprietor of Butler’s Steak & Ale, the Contented Cow, Chapati, and the soon-to-opened Pan Pan, has bellied up to the patriotic bar with a donation that, according to this article in the Nfld News,

was substantial enough to fund an additional fireworks show in Ames Park on the Fourth of July, Freeman said. The additional show, scheduled for 10 p.m., will not replace the regular fireworks display that Freeman has helped organize since 2002. Instead, the Ames Park show — limited in its size and height because of safety regulations — will precede the larger annual show, which launches from Sechler [sic] Park this year, Freeman said.

Ross Currier has a complete rundown of 4th of July weekend events in his NDDC blog post, Fireworks Mark Busy Weekend in Downtown.


  1. norman butler said:

    Rumor has it that the trolls are upset on NNews website cos I can only afford to sponsor fireworks cos Vic is my friend n Vic is on the EDA n so I can get loadsomoney from the EDA whenever I want cos Vic says so n anyway I deserve it cos we like each other n what Vic says on the EDA goes n anyway I dont even like children so how can I like fireworks n that’s not true cos I do like children especially parboiled..(who said that?)

    July 1, 2010
  2. Phil Poyner said:

    Please remember you’re in America…over here children are barbequed!

    Oh, and my mother always said no good deed goes unpunished. Mom’s always right.

    July 1, 2010
  3. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Norman, I am not a troll. I am a sharp witted, concerned and vocal voter with many questions. I will purposely comment on NN to stir up comments & see what answers will be given. From this I gain great insight.

    It is how I learn about our community, our candidates, and our perceptions of the issues.

    To make such statements as you have here is a blazing and bold example of exactly what’s not needed at this time. In fact, I thought such a post would be beneath you. If you disagree with anything I have said, or can prove a difference from what I have stated, then please, I invite you to in civil
    manner, stat e you case and dispute what has been saidon NN AT NN in an open forum. Write a letter to the editor, that people may comment on, and join in the discussion.

    Please. learning from those in complete agreement with one is a rare occurance. A differing opinion, perspective, etc, can offer more to learn, for all.

    A closed mind gets fed as much as a closed mouth.

    July 1, 2010
  4. A business owner who provides JOBS to the local community is providing an extra display of fireworks for the local community, sponsored by the businesses that he owns. What Blasphemy!

    Seriously though, some people (from what I’ve seen on the Northfield News website) need to relax. Maybe grab a beer at the Cow and watch some fireworks or something.

    Speaking of publicity…Everyone come on down to LOWBROW • HIGH OCTANE 5 on Saturday, August 28th at the CONTENTED COW PUB. Hot rods and art galore. Show organizers are Nick Sinclair and *ahem* me, Corrie Erickson.

    Thanks for the extra fireworks display, Mr. Butler.

    The British are coming!

    July 2, 2010
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    The Nfld News defends Norman in today’s editorial: Lighten up — and enjoy the show.

    The fact that Butler happens to be running for council doesn’t change that. There’s no conflict with the city, since the city isn’t involved. There’s no waste of taxpayer resources, since none are being used. And if Butler dictated his money be used for a fireworks display that was closer to his businesses downtown, that’s his prerogative. The city still benefits from a second display.

    July 3, 2010
  6. Griff Wigley said:

    Rob, yeah, I put the [sic] in that Nfld News story (for those who wonder about the use of ‘sic’ see the Wikipedia) because I assumed the City of Northfield knew how to spell its own parks when I checked the parks page and the Parks Master Plan.

     But I see other pages have it spelled ‘Sechler’:

    And even more weird: the Park System Master Appendix for the park uses ‘Sechlar’ in it’s title but ‘Sechler’ in the body of the document.

    I guess someone needs to check with Maggie Lee and the Northfield Historical Society to find out who or what it was named after.

    July 3, 2010
  7. Kiffi Summa said:

    The Northfield News… they just can’t help stepping in ‘it’!

    After writing the editorial that the anonymous comments they allowed necessitated them to write, this is what they say at the end:
    “Voters can judge at the polls whether such means of promotion for a city council seat___if that’s even what Butler intended___is something of which they approve in a local politician.”

    Whew! Time for a ‘reverse revolution’, Norm!

    July 3, 2010
  8. Rob Hardy said:

    From Maggie Lee’s Do You Remember? column (6/2/09):

    25 Years Ago—June 7, 1984….A dedication ceremony for Sechler Park took place with Les and Leona Sechler cutting of the ribbon…

    July 3, 2010
  9. norman butler said:

    In response to today’s editorial in the NNews I wrote the following on their website:

    “I did not decide to promote the fact that I contributed. That decision and the publicity photos and stories were made by others without prior consultation with me.

    Nor did I dictate that my contribution was to be used for a display closer to my businesses downtown.

    Last year, Dan had a hard time raising money for this important annual celebration and at that time I told Dan that I would contribute more significantly if the display was ‘brought back downtown’.

    In every way, shape, and form I am ‘for’ all downtowns everywhere and this one, my own, in particular – including being able to view the fireworks from there.

    Nor have I had any involvement whatsoever in the siting of the displays. The two sites were announced recently and came as a complete surprise to me.

    I did not ask David Hencke to interview me. He asked me – and I recall hesitating for fear it would be misunderstood by those few who insist that no good deed go unpunished. I was not publicity-seeking nor electioneering and a pox on your editorial for insinuating otherwise.”

    July 3, 2010
  10. Michelle Hawkins said:

    and I posted this response :

    Geez Norman! I was on my way to thank you profusely for answering at least some of the questions raised. Was impressed in your stepping up to the plate, thought now here’s a person that possess courage & can be engaged etc,

    Until I got to the last line
    “and a pox on your editorial for insinuating otherwise.”

    This get’s back to the sound judgement and resentment discussion.

    Perhaps you were wiser to remain silent until after the holiday is over.

    Then come back and in civil discourse address issues concerned with all of Northfield if you are running for at-large and hope to take that job representing all of the town.

    Michelle Hawkins
    The “oh I have questions Voter”
    Norman, I am not a troll. I have questions. I ask. I opine on what shoudl be obvious. I discuss and enjoy civility in differrance of opinions, learn much here and at the news.
    Many people do.

    Insulting anyone, including a newspaper isn’t smart campaign strategy and will cloud any topic you could discuss.

    I do look forward to hearing your ideas of representation in the councilor-at-large position and what they mean to you.
    I do not look forward to lack of judgement or restraint in any elected official’s statements, past, present, or hopeful, in serving.

    July 3, 2010
  11. Phil Poyner said:


    I don’t see you asking questions; I see you making statements and unfounded accusations:

    “I believe Mr Butler is running for city council and is very against anything for the kids. Rolls his eyes about it.”

    “10grand for 10 minutes? that kind of money could have done so many other things here that would have had a more lasting and positive effect.”

    “What master display of his unquestionable judgement and exceptional restraint in only calling potential voters “trolls’.”

    “Troll is also a slur aimed at GLBT and has been used in long ago years as a racial slur.”

    Yeah, see….I’m just not seeing any questions here (and that was from just one set of comments). I’m seeing statements about Norm Butler: How he doesn’t like kids, how he could spend his own money better, how you think his judgement is questionable, how you feel he makes racist statements. But no real questions. A REAL question would be “What would you do about a skatepark”, or “What services do you think should be cut by the city”, or “What do you think the city’s role should be in fighting drug addiction in Northfield”. But you don’t ask those questions, do you. No, it’s a lot more fun to make up bumper sticker slogans (Fluff and stuff) and hurl mud. What’s the new term for that? Oh yes…”Swift boating”.

    I’m not a Minnesotan; I don’t suffer from that mythical “being nice” syndrome. In fact, I don’t really come from anywhere. If anything the military was my home for much of my life. I guess that may be the reason I tend to speak directly rather than circle issues. So, when someone expresses an opinion such as this:

    “just an aside here about the makeup of locallygrown. It’s membership includes past and present(and hopeful) powers-that-be.”

    and I consider that I am amongst those being broadbrushed, I have to fight mightily to overcome my desire to tell you just how little regard I have for your opinions. I’ll leave it up to your imagination as to how a former non-comm would probably word that.

    July 3, 2010
  12. Michelle Hawkins said:

    PHil -I did respond to the comment about my first the news. It was a Tongue-in-cheek statement, made with silliness and obviously taken way to seriously.

    Of course the discussion took off. I am as entitled to my opinions as Kiffi is entitled to her bitterness. If you disagree with what I say, I am always open to civil discourse, I’ve learned a lot in that exercise.
    I state what I believe, you state your beliefs, we learn from each other.

    I’m a daughter of a military man. Moved seventeen times before I was 17yrs old and that was AfTeR he got out. Thanks for your service.

    Personal opinions of me don’t bother me, I do have questions and as a voter would like them answered.
    I ASKED f&b if Norm ever took any Tif or EDA money. It wasn’t meant to imply anything. It was a question. If f&b was going to make statements then I wanted to see what answer he would give. THAT is all.
    Yes, I was amazed at Norms use of the word Trolls. And at his comment about the editorial on the news.
    He has the right to say whatever he wants, just like you, just like me.
    I was so happy to see him do so! Except for that last line.

    And I am not incorrect in the makeup of this forum. I never said that was all there were here.
    Nor was I incorrect in the bitter nastiness here. The news is no better in many cases, especially f&b, whom I disagree with quite a bit.

    Now Norman, if you’re reading any of this..
    I apologize for my part in any ill feeling that caused you to respond at the news with that last line. If I read it correctly, you haven’t wished a pox on me..well yet or at least publicly.

    I remain open to civil discussion, still haven’t made up my mind in voting and talk to alot of people.
    In all sincerity, I do look forward to a lively discussion, of issues for Northfield. And after the FiReWorKs are done igniting around here and the NN, perhaps we could meet for coffee.
    Just not of the bitter flavored.
    I will sit and listen to you refute and state anything you want about anything I have CiviL manner. And, yes, I have questions.
    For ALL candidates or the ones willing to answer. That’s all.

    July 3, 2010
  13. Kiffi Summa said:

    Phil : thanks for challenging a lot of BS with truthful observations; this campaign that this “bitter” old lady started against the promulgation of false information , lies, and unending twisted innuendo must result in getting some truths out… it just must… or else this town is going to suffocate in its own apathy.

    July 3, 2010
  14. Kiffi Summa said:

    Michelle: it is astounding that you keep asking for a Civil manner”, and yet you continue to throw insults, supposition, and when you get caught up in it, i.e. someone draws attention to your lack of factual info or lack of civility, you try to pass it off as “Oh, I was just joking”…
    Monumental BS!

    July 3, 2010
  15. Michelle Hawkins said:

    Ok Kiffi, believe whatever you wish. Look at life with that anger at everything, keep angry perceptions as you wish. May you live a long time and find peace.

    A closed mind is fed as much as a closed mouth.

    July 3, 2010
  16. Kiffi Summa said:

    Having gotten up, made a cup of tea, and looked outside and decided there may not even be any fireworks… I wondered about the direction this thread has taken.

    If you go back and look at it, except for the exchanges on how to spell Sechler/Sechlar Park… the content all feeds off the personal suppositions and then recriminations against Mr. Butler generated in the comments on the NFNews website.

    It looks like a perfect example of what I, at least, think is the problem with anonymous comments… which is their destructiveness to a sense of community.
    OK, I’ve said that a lot of times; it would take some rational argument to convince me otherwise.

    BUT… I’m wondering if there was a different way to handle that here?

    When commenters at the News made more and more ridiculous suppositions of Mr. Butler’s motives, should they have just been ignored as WM. Siemers has validly suggested when he says : readers are not idiots; they can tell the difference. (sorry for the paraphrasing; didn’t go back to look up the exact) ?

    Or when those recriminations of a personal nature move over here, and are asked to be debated in an open forum, is that then the beginning of a ‘fair game’ discussion?
    It would seem so; this is an open forum…

    Was there a way for it not to get so personal given the basis for the discussion?

    I don’t think so, given the speculative personal attacks against Mr. Butler….
    Should those attacks have just been ignored? and on what basis would they just be ignored?
    Are defamatory comments meaningless if they just lie ( ‘lie’ meaning repose, in this instance) there?
    Should people who know the comments not to be true just let Mr. Butler go it on his own?

    Is there a community responsibility to respond to defamatory statements about a person’s motives? Do we have a responsibility to ask for truth, as much as it is ascertainable?

    So again, I’m wondering if there was a different way to handle ‘it’ here?

    July 4, 2010
  17. Kiffi Summa said:

    I know what HAS happened; I’m asking how this particular situation could have been handled in a more productive way… if indeed it could have been.

    Are you suggesting that Griff should have moderated?

    July 4, 2010
  18. norman butler said:

    I’m back home at 10.50pm. Well done, Dan.

    The fireworks were brilliant! If I could make one small change, I would suggest that all the energy and money be put into the spectacular display in Ames Park, even it means sacrificing ‘height’ which I assume is made possible by having the ‘big’ display in Sechler Park.

    There was a lot of oohs and aahs for the short, brilliant, loud Ames display, but none at all (at least downtown) for the Sechler display. Just a thought.

    BTW, I would love to see the guy blown out of the cannon and across the river every 4th and it become a regular annual event. All in all, Dan, a job well done. Thank you.

    July 4, 2010
  19. john george said:

    I think both fireworks displays were great. Thank you, Norm, for the extra contribution. We happen to have a vantage point from which we could see both displays perfectly. I’m not sure what the size/height of fireworks has to do with their location, either Ames Park or Sechle(a?)r Park. I’m assuming that the size of some of the ordinance blasted off at Sechla(e?)r might cause some concern for the downtown building roofs. There are a lot of square feet of asphalt roofing on those buildings. Perhaps the Fire Marshal could shed some light on this. Either way, the fireworks display is a strong tradition, and it is a privilege to take our grandchildren to them now. I would gladly contribute to the costs. I just never think about it as the holiday approaches.

    July 4, 2010
  20. Kathie Galotti said:

    Fun fireworks!! Thanks, Norm. Thanks, Dan. And thanks for the video, Griff.

    July 6, 2010

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