On the Road: Albert Lea - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

On the Road: Albert Lea

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 ALBERT LEA, Minn. (KTTC) – Perhaps not all roads lead to Albert Lea, but Interstates 35 and 90 will take you right to it; and right past the lakes that give it its byname.

“We call ourselves, 'Albert Lea, the land between the lakes!" said Ellen Kehr, with the Albert Lea Blue Zones Program.

If you ask Kehr, Albert Lea is a town on the upswing, and the idea of small town downtown is coming back.

"It's the heart of your city. And the heart of your city needs to be beating! Needs to be vibrant!" she said.

New businesses have popped up in the last few years.

Creating wider sidewalks slowed traffic and made room for dining 'al fresco' - Albert Lea style.

“Here we have The Interchange,” said Kehr, walking down the main drag of Albert Lea toward a new sandwich shop with outdoor dining. "Absolutely not here two years ago. None of the downtown dining was here two years ago."

Despite new additions, old traditions still thrive, including the pride of the summer: the July 3rd parade.

"It's probably 100 units, 120 units, It's a pretty large parade,” said John Severtson of the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Camp and the American Legion.

"My understanding is the third of July was chose because everybody wants a high school band to march in their parade, and on the fourth of July, everybody's asking for them. Less demand,” he said.

Before celebrating their country, they thanked the veterans. At the Fountain Lake gazebo Friday night, the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon group served food and drinks with live music as they hosted veterans and their families.

"It's just our way of saying, well, thank you, you know?" he said.

Just a few years ago, the Minnesota National Guard's 134th Brigade Support Battalion out of Albert Lea was deployed overseas, building up patriotism, and improving support for Albert Lea veterans. The American Legion Post 56 is still a big hot spot in town.

"We really support the veterans, Albert Lea does. If there's a need, the people of Albert Lea and Freeborn County support their veterans," Severtson said.

But whether they be new traditions or old, for this town, the glory days are coming back.

"The heart of Albert Lea is like any other small town, you know. We're changing. It's not like back in the 60s when I was a kid when it was a vibrant, busy downtown area. We're slowly building it back up,” said Severtson.

Keeping history alive in the land between the lakes.

"I think that our energy is back, and I believe we're honoring our history and creating new history,” said Kehr.  

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