The ceremonial dedication for the Hiawatha Lodge took place on Sunday, June 26.
The property was officially transferred to the city of Pipestone effective May 25 by the Pipestone Area Community Foundation (PACF), the nonprofit entity that raised the $415,000 needed to construct and fully equip the lodge. The Sunday ceremony provided an opportunity for PACF to thank the donors for making the lodge possible; to thank the Hiawatha Club for donating the 43-acre property to the city; to thank the city and Public Works department for its caretaking; and to dedicate the building to Pipestone’s past, present and future.
“This is a Pipestone project, a project dedicated to the citizens of Pipestone today, dedicated to the people of the Hiawatha Club and the Hiawatha Pageant performers who for years showcased this place, dedicated to the people who still come back to Pipestone and call it home, and dedicated to all the Pipestone people yet to come,” said Tim Haubrich, PACF board president.
Haubrich said it was the PACF’s hope that the lodge and grounds would forever mean a special place for all who visited and used its amenities.
“And also a place to reflect upon the precious memories of the past,” Haubrich said. “Memories of pageants and picnics, of swimming and ice skating and memories of family and friends.”
Four speakers followed Haubrich, including Greg Carrow, who spoke on behalf of the city’s Hiawatha Pageant Park Commission, the city’s subcommittee that oversees and advises the City Council on Hiawatha Pageant Park operations and improvements. The city formed the committee in 2014 following the Club’s donation of the grounds. Carrow thanked the PACF, the donors and the Hiawatha Club, which also donated $96,000 with the property to improve the park.
“That’s been very helpful for some of the things we’ve done out here,” Carrow said.
Some of those things included the harvesting of old trees and the planting of 30 new mature trees. The lake was stocked with fish earlier this summer by the Department of Natural Resources and the old costume house was transformed and remodeled into a picnic shelter with another heated space that could be used as a warming shelter for future skating.
Carrow said they’re currently working on a walking trail that surrounds the property and can be accessed at any point.
Mick Myers, speaking on behalf of the Hiawatha Club, reminisced about the work the 40 Hiawatha Club families put into performing the Song of Hiawatha Pageant more than 500 times over 60 years from 1949 - 2008.
“There was a lot of blood and sweat and tears that went into this place; a lot of arguments. A lot of joy. A lot of arguments,” Myer said, to laughter. “Graduations, weddings, and here we are. We’re a family. We did stay together. We’re proud of what we did.”
Myers was followed by George Hicks, a past pageant performer who played the role of Hiawatha from 1972-1987. Hicks and family members were the largest donors for the lodge in the $100,000 and above category and for Sunday’s event, he shared some of the behind-the-scenes stories of performances past. The speakers concluded with Mayor
Laurie Ness, who said it would “tough to even begin to show the appreciation the city has.
“As a representative of the city of Pipestone, I graciously accept your gift, and accept the responsibility of caretaking,” Ness said.