Fish House parade

The Aitkin, Minnesota, Fish House Parade is a post-Thanksgiving tradition. People dress up their snowmobiles, Sno-Cats, and fish houses—portable cabins used for ice fishing—in silly costumes and roll them down Aitkin's Main Street to cheering throngs. It's meant to mark the kick-off of the ice fishing season on Mille Lacs, a particularly large lake in north-central Minnesota. This year, however, the arrival of Thanksgiving has not really coincided with the arrival of thick snow and solid lake ice. It'll be a while yet before any of the fish houses are being used for fishing.

One other oddity brought on by the relatively warm November: If you browse through the photos taken by Minnesota Public Radio's Bob Collins, you'll see that many of fish house floats are towed by snowmobile. But, lacking much snow, the snowmobiles all have little, temporary front wheels attached.


    1. To: Art
      Maybe the message was addressed to many fish in the pail? Not to _all_ of the fish, just “many” of them. Although, I’m not really sure what was meant about their going to jail.

  1. The Fish House Parade rocks. Some of us enjoy looking for the most outrageous spelling and grammar peculiarities. But quietly, because we respect people who can drink the amount of beer required to put one of those babies together.

  2. Dear Mr Pail,

    Please excuse my misstep in titling the missive regarding your jail time. I was drunk.


  3. Oh god! This reminds me so much of rural Manitoba. Do people really call them “Ice Houses” though (that seems so formal?) I’ve been ice fishing plenty of times and have only ever heard of them as “ice shacks.” Everyone has to experience ice fishing at least once in their life. 

    The weirdness of sitting in pitch dark and completely soundless shack, warming up your extremities with a little stove and starting down a sometimes blindingly bright hole for a few hours at time never escapes me. It is a bit like sensory deprivation chamber in a way, you can feel yourself slowly go mad.

  4. “This year, however, the arrival of Thanksgiving has not really coincided with the arrival of thick snow and solid lake ice.”

    Better get used to it.  Pretty soon the arrival of New Years won’t be any indicator of ice thickness either.  In Ontario the ice fishing industry is down to about a third of what it was and is probably headed for extinction.

  5. Oh Minnesota. This makes me both proud of and horrified by my home state, in equal measure. Nobody knows how to spell up der, ya know, but how can ya get upset at the yokels when dey hook a giant fiberglass muskie on top of a snow cat and parade down main street? Just look at it. It almost makes me weep. You betcha. Let’s go ice fishin’!

  6. Oh cripes. That’s not a fiberglass muskie, it’s a canvas walleye. I’ll turn in my Minnesotan card, and slink off to Iowa.

  7. We Michiganians used to call the ”ice houses” ice shanties. Leave it to Minnesotans to gussy up the place.

  8. I’m from Aitkin Minnesota (AHS Class of ’96). 

    While I hated the Fishhouse parade as a kid, I’ve gone with my mother a couple of times since moving away…and it is AWESOME. By awesome I actually do mean AWESOME. I know civic pride when I see it, kids. 

    To the Manitoban above: They’re fish houses. Not ice houses, not ice shacks…fish houses. When I was a little kid, I thought it was so nice that people put them on the lakes to give the fish a place to live when the water turned to ice. Little did I know they’re primarily for beer drinking.

Comments are closed.