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Anna G. Larson, Published July 04 2013

Famous American figures celebrate Fourth of July at Bonanzaville

WEST FARGO – Rosie the Riveter, Amelia Earhart, Uncle Sam, Abraham Lincoln, Betsy Ross – some iconic American figures were at Bonanzaville’s Fourth of July Celebration here Thursday.

Dressed in a denim shirt and red bandana, Olivia Khristan, 20, of Fargo, was Rosie the Riveter for the day, posing with people in front of a sign with the phrase “We can do it!”

“It’s been really fun,” Khristan said. “Rosie the Riveter is this iconic working woman figure in history – she’s a role model for kids.”

While mostly adults recognized the iconic World War II star, Khristan, who’s an intern at Bonanzaville, said children still wanted to pose with her and learn about Rosie the Riveter.

Educating children and getting them excited about history is the celebration’s goal, said Bonanzaville’s executive director, Troy White.

“Seeing how excited the kids are makes you realize why we’re here,” he said. “We’re not just keeping the doors open. We’re preserving the past and educating the future.”

It’s the first year Bonanzaville’s hosted an official Fourth of July celebration, and the turnout was “happily overwhelming,” White said.

“We didn’t believe that everybody went off to the lakes,” he said. “I think it helps the community. We keep people in town to spend money and enjoy things.”

Olivia Bain, 21, of Moorhead, brought her nephew, Camden Leichtenberg, to Bonanzaville to learn about history.

Camden rode the train and saw the horses that trotted through the pioneer village. The 4-year-old couldn’t decide what he liked best, so he summarized, “All of ’em!” while he played with Lincoln Logs.

“We’re celebrating the history of our nation. I really think that’s what’s missing out of the celebration of Independence Day – history,” White said. “It’s stars and stripes, and it’s about fireworks, but there’s a lot of history that goes into it.”

The day included a 5k/10k Vietnam Veterans Run, parade, pet adoption event, two showings of a silent film, games, a clown, train rides, food, horse-drawn carriage rides, live music and a performance by comedian/magician Jason Huneke of “American’s Got Talent.” The festivities concluded with fireworks after sunset.

Bonanzaville plans to host a Fourth of July celebration again next year, White said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Anna G. Larson at (701) 241-5525