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The Return of the Vice Commodores

The AAO Membership voted to reinstate the role of Vice Commodore and the Festival Planning Divisions at the AAO Annual Meeting on Wednesday.

Current and Former Vice Commodores

First appearing in the 1960s, the Vice Commodores (VCs) acted not only as official representatives of the Aquatennial, but primarily to lead the planning divisions of the festival and execute the programs and events that took place leading up to and during the Aquatennial festival. However, after the Minneapolis Aquatennial Association was dissolved and responsibilities of planning the festival transferred to the Minneapolis Downtown Council in 2003, the newly formed AAO retired the Vice Commodore position.

Though the Downtown Council still produces the Aquatennial Festival, the AAO hosts several programs and events during the Aquatennial including the Rockin' the Waves Aqua Dance Party, International Visiting Dignitary Program, Community and Commodore receptions, and Ambassador Candidate Program-which reached a record 56 participants in 2016.

In an effort to strengthen these and other programs and events throughout the year by involving more alumni and supporters in planning committees while linking our past with Aquatennial's future, the need for the return of the Vice Commodores was clear.

Past Vice Commodore Terri Johnson shared that fellow VCs, "had a passion for making amazing experiences." Craig Holje served as one of the last Vice Commodores in 2002 (pictured below) and helped President Joe Johnston introduce the 2017 Vice Commodores.

2002 Aquatennial Ambassador Crew

The 2017 Festival Planning Divisions & Vice Commodores

Ambassadors: Gary Schaak

Alumni: (Open)

Candidates: Sonja Weiler & Sharolyn Carlson

Hospitality: (Open)

Visiting Dignitaries: Jeff DeKeuster

Finance: Wayne Ellingson

Communications & Marketing: Brian Thomas May & Sarah Schrader

2017 Vice Commodores with President Joe Johnston

If you are interested in filling one of the vacant divisions as a Vice Commodore, please contact Joe Johnston.

For more information on the AAO planning committees and how to volunteer, please visit

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