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Who to blame? Parade provides few answers
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People along a parade route in St. Paul did not appear to bring concerns about the shutdown with them. (MPR Photo/Annie Baxter)
When DFL state Sen. Ellen Anderson climbed into a blue convertible on July 4th to ride in the St. Anthony Park parade, she didn't know what to expect. The governor and legislators' inability to work out a budget by the end of the legislative session has led to a partial government shutdown, which is now in its fourth day. So, an Independence Day parade could bring more public scrutiny than a politician might like at this time.

St. Paul, Minn. — The st. Anthony Park parade has been a festive tradition in Ellen Anderson's nearly 13-year tenure as state senator. But before the start or the parade, she worried that happy pattern could change.

"It's not fun to be in office during the time of the first shutdown in mn history,"she said.

Anderson knows some people might be unhappy about the shutdown. She tells a story of how Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson recently fended off criticism at a parade; he brought some neighbor kids along with him.

"He spent the whole day with them," she says. "And he said it was great. Not one person yelled at him. He figured nobody could get mad at him if he had four little children walking around with him."

Anderson insists her young sons, Nick and Jake, are not tagging along today for her protection. She says she's hopeful her constituents will be supportive.

But at least one supporter worries Anderson will take heat for the shutdown.

"We were saying that we should have some of us walk around you just to protect you, because not everybody knows the whole story. So thank you for what you're trying to do. And it must be really really frustrating," said one man.

"It's frustrating, but we really are making progress. We're really moving in the right direction," Anderson insisted.

It appears that Democrats and Republicans may have made some slight progress in their negotiations. But will the people along the parade route appreciate that?

Anderson and her kids climb aboard the little blue convertible they'll ride in. The parade begins. It's the usual routine. Bagpipes whine. Anderson and her sons shout greetings.

As the convertible winds its way down Como Avenue, the crowd does what a crowd does best at a fourth of July parade. It cheers.

The blue convertible reaches its destined unscathed. But maybe that's because some detractors withheld their complaints about the shutdown.

"I'm actually quite concerned that they weren't able to reach an agreement and keep government moving forward as they should've," says Fred Otto, who lives in Como Park. He says Democrats and Republicans are equally at fault for the deadlock.

"Both sides seem to be polarized too far, and they seem to need to reach an agreement and move on with things. I hold all of them responsible. Ellen as well as the rest of them," he says.

But other parade goers, like Elizabeth Mulvaney, did not see the face of government inaction when Sen. Ellen Anderson passed by.

"I never even put that together watching it go through," she says. "I never even thought of that. I guess I always connect it with the people you see on the news, which are more the high profile. It's more at the upper levels where people aren't connected with reality."

Sen. Anderson made it through her parade without argument or criticism on day four of the shutdown. That may not have been the case for some legislative leaders.