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A royally fun week

The 77th annual Hutchinson Jaycee Water Carnival ended in a burst of colorful fireworks Sunday night over the Crow River.

Before that, it was an evening of tears and cheers as the outgoing royal family said their goodbyes and the new members were crowned.

New Commodore Jon Beach announced Chad and Betsy Czmowski are next year’s vice commodore and second mate, respectively.

Princess Olivia Watzke crowned her successor, Princess Abigail Riewer, and Miss Hutchinson Erin Westlund passed her Miss Hutchinson duties to Erika Tillmann.

For those who may have felt like they were seeing double, it wasn’t eye strain. Miss Hutchinson Erika Tillmann’s twin sister, Princess Loraina Tillmann, was crowned at the 75th annual Hutchinson Jaycee Water Carnival Pageant in 2017.

From the beginning of this year’s Water Carnival through Sunday night, it was a week of wonderful weather.

Under the direction of Commodore Tess Heikes and her first mate, Keith, the couple were seen at all the Water Carnival activities beginning with the new Party in the Park on Saturday, June 8. It brought children’s activities, the Mayor’s Pulled Pork Challenge and live music by The Music Junkies together at Library Square.

Hosting an old-fashioned party in the town square was a longtime dream of Tess Heikes. This year, she was able to make it happen.

Sunday activities took place at Crow River Winery with cyclists participating in Luce Line Loops with a choice of four riding distances from 12 miles to the 75K Gravel Grinder. Afterward was a return of a favorite — the bean bag tournament.

Monday saw the launch of the popular Water Carnival Medallion hunt. Clues were published daily on the Hutchinson Leader website and at the Hutchinson Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism office.

Last year, the medallion was found on the first day. The hope was that the hunt would stretch out longer this year. And for the record, it did. After two clues, the team of Dany Stoufer, Brittany Stoufer and Rachel Smith found it Tuesday evening hidden among the daylilies beneath the Northwoods Park sign.

Finding the medallion made Dany Stoufer a double winner. He also won the design contest for this year’s Water Carnival button.

The public had its first opportunity to meet the Water Carnival queen and junior royalty candidates Monday night at the start of Music in the Park. From there, audience members were treated to live music by Shirts & Skins.

Although Tuesday was overcast with rain, it didn’t dampen the spirits of the 27 competitors at the first-time Ridgewater College Disc Golf Tournament. Winning their respective divisions were Sam King in the advanced division, Mike Curry in intermediate, Brett Rasmussen in recreational, Meghan Curry in the women’s division, and Corbin Curry in the junior division.

Staff photo by Sarv Mithaqiyan 

The Crow River was infested with Tigersharks Thursday during the boat parade. Members of the Hutchinson High School girls swimming team floated down river and danced to “Baby Shark” on their float.

Thursday brought the focus of Water Carnival activities to Masonic/West River Park. New this year was paintball and a visit by Paul Bunyan’s Axe and the University of Minnesota. Returning favorite Andy Austin lit up the RiverSong Stage while decorated boats and pontoons cruised the Crow River. The evening ended in an explosion of color and sound as the first of two fireworks shows burst overhead.

Friday’s sunny skies drew families, children and their furry friends to Library Square to boogie to the tunes of the Teddy Bear Band.

Staff photo by Stephen Wiblemo  

Todd Givens lifts his 2-year-old son, William, into the air for a better view of the flying teddy bears in Library Square.

The evening was emceed by Mary Hodson and Joe Nagle as they provided a showcase for the talents of the queen candidates, as well as the much-awaited announcement of the new Mr. Hutchinson Joe Keilen and Hutchinson Woman of the Year Maxine Engwall. You can read more about these residents on B1 in today’s Leader.

Staff photo by Jeremy Jones  

Abigail Riewer dances ballet during the talent portion of the Miss Hutchinson Pageant Friday.

While Saturday dawned overcast with the threat of rain, it didn’t materialize and activities took place outdoors at Jaycee Riverside Park and Masonic/West River Park.

The Water Carnival bills itself as being family friendly and that was evident with the array of activities along the riverfront. Everything from Run by the River and Human Foosball to Kids Fun Day and the canoe races were available. The car show along Third Avenue drew a stellar group of classics and many lookers. The new duck races at Main Street Bridge drew participants, too.

The Kiddy Day Parade brought out many youngsters to march in costume, and first-place prizes were awarded to those in six different categories. Carson, Calla and Mara Klitzke won in the movie and TV characters division, The Arnesen family won in the historical figures division, Lizzy and Matthew Tanata won for story book characters, Zachary Schaufler won in pets and animals, the wheels and wagons winners were Ben Czmowski and Cora Kamrath, and the miscellaneous winners were Isaac, Anna and Mollie Nellis.

One of the week’s many highlights was the selection of the new junior royalty. Crowned was Junior Commodore Javier Alvarado Jr. and Junior Queen Julia Knorr.

Staff photo by Stephen Wiblemo 

2019 Junior Commodore Javier Alvarado Jr. and 2019 Junior Queen Julia Knorr wave as they are introduced during the Miss Hutchinson Coronation Sunday.

While dads everywhere celebrate Father’s Day, Hutchinson dads more than likely passed Sunday afternoon at the Grande Day Parade. And what a grand day for a parade it was. Last year, the mercury hit 94 degrees. This year, it was at least 15 degrees cooler and what a difference that made. It definitely brought the crowds out because Main Street was packed two rows deep from the bridge south to Fourth Avenue and beyond.

Staff photo by Sarv Mithaqiyan 

Members and family of the Hutchinson Fire Department threw candy and waved to people watching the parade.

Following the parade, it was root beer float time at Historic Hutchinson’s ice cream social at the Harrington-Merrill House. This event drew a record crowd that toured the house, listened to live music by Stoney Point and enjoyed treats.

The evening brought the Miss Hutchinson Coronation, which always draws a full house to witness the changing of the guard.

Afterward, a fireworks show announced the end of another successful Water Carnival week.

On Monday, Tess and Keith Heikes took a deep breath and relaxed while new Commodore Jon Beach and his wife, Laura, with Vice Commodore Chad Czmowski and Second Mate Betsy, stepped up to begin planning for the royal family’s parade appearances.

And so it continues — 78 years strong.

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Silver Lake man wants to provide fun for all ages

Everyone needs a little fun in their life.

That's a fact Greg St. Hilaire has been reminded of recently during regular visits with his wife Carol to GlenFields Living with Care, a nursing home in Glencoe.

"Last Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law fell and hurt herself and ended up in the nursing home," he said. "We've been going there pretty much every day now and we're getting to know the people."

The incident moved Greg and Carol back home to Minnesota from Arizona, where they had been living since 2005. They're now in Silver Lake, a change from the metro area. Wherever he has lived, St. Hilaire, founder of the nonprofit Caring, Helping and Providing Ministries, has tried to find a way to serve. In 1991, CHAP started a thrift store in Burnsville to support a food shelf and homeless shelter. In Arizona, it supported a 10-bedroom men's homeless shelter, two family shelters and programs to help people move out of homelessness. 

All told, the 65-year-old has been at it for nearly 30 years.

"I love it," he said. "Some people think I'm nuts when I do this, but God called me to the ministry."

Now St. Hilaire has found CHAP's next program: Desires Fulfilled. It started to form when he heard about GlenFields' One Wish program, which is much like the Make-A-Wish program, but for residents in nursing homes. 

"I talked to the activities director and got excited about it," St. Hilaire said. "And then I talked to other nursing homes and found they don't have similar programs."

He's already heard a variety of desires from nursing home residents. A few examples are:

  • a fishing trip,
  • attending a ball game,
  • visiting someone special,
  • attending a family event,
  • visiting the county fair, and 
  • shopping.

"There are lots of things some of them would like to do," St. Hilaire said. "We've already scheduled an indoor event at the home in GlenFields. We are going to bring in a gentleman with his dogs. ... A lot of people there like to touch dogs, and it's a comfort. It brings back good memories."

A few outings are in the works. One early project involved the creation of a mother's ring for a resident.

"Some of them just want to go to a restaurant and have some variety," St. Hilaire said. "I am finding out many of them would like pizza. Some of them haven't been to a movie theater in forever."

He's discovered many residents don't know what to ask for, but after a conversation about their hobbies, things they used to enjoy, or things they miss, something comes to mind. 

"They said, 'I don't know,' and then I ask, maybe, 'When is the last time you had pizza?' And they say, 'Oh, I haven't had pizza in forever,'" St. Hilaire said. "So if you talk to them you can find something that would bless them."

As Desires Fulfilled begins, it will target GlenFields, Cedar Crest in Silver Lake and Harmony River in Hutchinson. The next step is to grow it across the county, and then to other counties.

"We hope to do this in the state within the next few years," St. Hilaire said. "I want to give these guys some joy, something fun."

To have such a big dream calls for a strong base, and CHAP has found one in McLeod County. Numerous businesses and service groups have donated gift cards so residents can eat out, products such as bird feeders that can bring joy, fishing rods, movie passes and plenty more, including cash gifts. To contact CHAP, call St. Hilaire at 928-792-3100.

"I'm impressed," St. Hilaire said. "This is a giving community. We are brand new and are already getting quite a bit done."