RED WING — Dozens of Minnesota and Wisconsin residents gathered Thursday to celebrate the first crossing of the Highway 63 Eisenhower Bridge of Valor. The bridge, dedicated to past and present service members, was christened by a parade of first responders, military veterans and the color guard.

The parade of first responders and veterans began on the Wisconsin side of the bridge and ended in Red Wing. Cars driving on the old bridge honked their horns to cheer along with those participating in the opening ceremony during the parade and the short statements made by Mayor Dowse and Chamber of Commerce Director Patty Brown.

When Dowse cut the ribbon for the bridge, a muffled clap of gloved and mittened hands rose above the crowd.

The new bridge is planned to be open for traffic beginning Friday.

A larger ceremony is planned for August 2020 to celebrate the conclusion of work on the bridge. As Brown explained, the Eisenhower Bridge of Valor has a 100 year life expectancy, so it is unlikely that many people alive today will have to worry about construction on the Red Wing bridge again.