If you head down to the Minneapolis Aquatennial, which runs July 15-23, you might run into a familiar face.
Jennifer Parlin Brentano, a 1994 graduate of Cambridge-Isanti High School, and 1995 Cambridge Ambassador, has been selected as Co-Captain of this year’s Aquatennial.
She grew up and spent many years near Bradford on Lake Francis. Her parents are Tony and Judy, and her mother and her husband, Dick Imker, still live in the Cambridge-Isanti area.
Brentano credits her experience with the Cambridge Ambassador Program as one of the reasons she was selected as co-captain of the Aquatennial.
“I firmly believe that everything leads back to relationships and being selected shows this to be true,” Brentano said. “The Cambridge Ambassador Program has a long relationship with Joe Johnston. Joe, along with his sister, Gena, has been our emcee for many years. Joe is extremely involved with the Aquatennial as a former Commodore and former President. Through our friendship, Joe felt that I would be a great addition to the program as a Captain. He knew that I had the experience along with the passion of supporting young women.”
Brentano was official selected as captain of the Aquatennial in February.
“As a Captain my role is to be an Ambassador for the Minneapolis Aquatennial,” Brenanto said. “Additionally, I am a primary escort for one of the three young women that are wearing the crowns representing Aquatennial. As Ambassadors, we make community appearances throughout the region, promoting the Aquatennial, beautiful Minneapolis and all it has to offer.”
Brentano said the Cambridge Ambassador Program has great relationships with the Minneapolis Aquatennial.
“Through the Cambridge Ambassador Program we have built relationships within the community of the Minneapolis Aquatennial,” Brentano said. “Each year our program sends one of our girls to be a candidate to participate in the Aquatennial Queen of the Lakes Scholarship Program. Additionally, we attend various events throughout the Best Days of Summer and we also see Aquatennial at the community events across the state while chaperoning. It is through these events that we have built wonderful relationships.”
Brentano said she wishes well 2010 Cambridge Ambassador Cayla Yund, who will be representing the Cambridge community at this year’s Aquatennial. As a candidate, Yund will enjoy several activities, culminating with the Queen of the Lakes Coronation on Friday, July 22.
Brentano feels being selected captain of the Aquatennial also gives her a chance to promote Cambridge as well.
“It has certainly helped because I have been able to witness the transition and growth opportunities that are available for the young women,” Brentano said. “Additionally, coming from a festival community like Cambridge, I know firsthand the impact that the Minneapolis Aquatennial has on the young women in the communities. I feel I have a great advantage because I experience the best of both worlds – supporting a local community like Cambridge and also supporting a highly respected state program, the Minneapolis Aquatennial.”
Brentano knew she from a young age she wanted to become a Cambridge Ambassador.
“I remember being younger and seeing the girls on the float during the Swedish Heritage Festival we used to celebrate in Cambridge,” Brentano said. “I always knew it was something I wanted to be a part of but then when it came time to do it, I was very nervous. I didn’t have much confidence in myself. Then, I received a personal letter from Laurie [Solle] inviting me to be a part of the program.”
Brentano recalls being “shocked” when she got a personal invite from Solle inviting her to be a part of the program. Originally, she was planning on being a candidate in 1994, however, she had to quit that year because she moved to Bloomington to live with her aunt and uncle. The next year, when she was back in the area, she tried again.
“I participated in the program knowing that I was in it to have fun,” Brentano said. “I was hoping to learn as much as I could. In fact, the skills that I learned as a candidate helped me get a job that I wasn’t necessarily qualified to get – but I had a wonderful interview.
“Because of my attitude going into the program, when I was selected, I was blown away. I remember being overwhelmed with emotion and in such awe that I was chosen. I remember being so excited because I knew they had selected me because of me and who I was. It was such an incredible experience and little did I know how it would impact the rest of my life,” she added.
Brentano said she appreciates all the hard work Solle has contributed to the Cambridge Ambassador Program.
“My relationship with Laurie is amazing,” Brentano said. “We spend a lot of time together each year and we connect so well because we both have such a passion for the program and the young women that it touches. Honoring Laurie is something that has always been in the back of my mind. The work that she has done and continues to do amazes me. Because of her and her strength, courage, commitment, dedication, determination, and passion, we have such a wonderful program to offer the young women of the community. I am blessed to have met her and blessed to continue spending time with her and extremely blessed to call her a friend.”
Brentano also recently attended both the Cambridge and Isanti Ambassador Program crowning celebrations.
Brentano currently resides in Chaska with her daughter and husband, and nearly two years ago she started her own business Inspiring Radiance, LLC.
To learn more about the Cambridge Ambassador Program, visit their page on Facebook.
For more information on the Minneapolis Aquatennial Ambassadors, visit www.aquatennialambassadors.com, and for more information on the Minneapolis Aquatennial, visit www.aquatennial.com.