Maple Lake High School senior Sarah Latour, daughter of Robert and Carol Latour, was crowned on Saturday evening as the 2007-2008 Miss Maple Lake. Joining her on the new royal court are Princess Kaylie Hudek, Princess Shelly Neidenfeur and Miss Congeniality Elizabeth Yager.
The coronation was the final event of the record-setting 30th St. Patrick's Day Festival. More photos on the day's activities appear on pages 6-7 and page 14 of the March 21 issue of the Messenger.
St. Patrick's Irish eyes were smiling on Maple Lake Saturday as the city experienced the largest and most successful festival in its 30- year history.
Sunny, spring-like weather set the stage for exceptional attendance for the day's events. Starting early were the record 200+ participants in the Irish Scamper and 45 crafters offering their wares at the annual Craft Sale in the elementary school gym. Following on the heels of these events was the 30th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, with attendance estimated at over 6,000.
In Security State Bank's 100th year of service to the Maple Lake community, it is fitting that a retired bank staff member has been selected by the Maple Lake Chamber of Commerce to serve as the Grand Marshal of the 2007 St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 17.
Carol Eichten Wurm, a 1961 graduate of Maple Lake High School, retired in June after working for 45 years at the local bank.
But despite her long record of service to Security State Bank and the Maple Lake community, her selection as the recipient of Maple Lake's highest honor was an emotional surprise.
"I started crying right away," Wurm laughed as she recalled hearing the news that she would be the Grand Marshal of the 30th Grande Day Parade. "It was just pretty neat to be recognized for contributions to the bank and the community.
It was time to say goodbye on Friday and Saturday as Maple Lake honored its fallen Marine, Sgt. Chad Allen, who was killed on Feb. 28 in the line of duty in Iraq.
Both a memorial service and funeral service were conducted for Sgt. Allen in the gym at Maple Lake High School, where he graduated with the Class of 2000.
A quiet ceremony on Friday at 4:30 p.m. brought Sgt. Allen back to his high school with a contingent of eight Marines moving in unison to carry the flag-draped casket into the school. Also on hand were Wright County Sheriff's deputies and about 40 members of the Patriot Guard, who held flags and stood at attention as the procession entered the high school.
With less than a week passing since the last storm, Maple Lake was hammered with another major snowfall. According to the official Messenger weather watchdog, Ed Raiche, Maple Lake got 12' of snow on Thursday, March 1, and another 5" on Friday, March 2. And that's in addition to at least 12 inches of snow that fell during the last weekend in February.
Jerry Sawatzke, Maple Lake's public works director, said he and his crew logged 40 hours each between Thursday and Saturday plowing and removing snow from this latest storm.
"It was tougher this time," said Sawatzke. "There was so much snow piled on the sides of the roads, we had to push over the piles that were already there just to plow. And we're not done yet, we have to get out to the airport. You can't see the lights at the sides of the runway, they're buried."
It has been quite a ride for the ANML wrestlers all season. That ride came to an end with a loss to Big Lake in the Consolation Semi-Finals at the State Wrestling Tournament, but the Lightning did enjoy every curve, climb, chill and thrill along the way.
"We had a terrific season," said Head Coach Dean Jennissen. "We wanted to be wrestling for a bigger trophy on Saturday, but we are certainly not disappointed when you look back over the entire season. First-ever conference and section titles and a 24-4 final season record means our kids have a lot to be proud of."
Chad Allen lived his life as the second of four children, a football player, track star, homecoming king, proud Harley owner, a friend you could count on and a man in love.
But he died as a soldier.
Chad's death on Feb. 28 made him one of a small group of Minnesotans to lose their lives during the war in Iraq. It came within weeks of Chad's planned departure from Iraq and the end of his four-year commitment with the Marines.
Chad's family moved from Maple Lake to Danbury, WI, three years ago to be near family in that area. His mother, Deb, said in a phone call from her Wisconsin home that Chad was inspired to join the Marines after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
"He loved being a Marine," Deb said. "He thought he was serving our country."
Chad made his Marine commitment in 2003, just a few months after his best friend and fellow 2000 MLHS graduate, Bart Kilgo Jr., joined the Marines.
The 30th St. Patrick's Day Festival will get off to a grand start with the Second Annual Irish Gala, set for the evening of March 16 at the Maple Lake American Legion Club.
The guest of honor at the Gala will be Carol Wurm, former vice president at Security State Bank and this year's St. Patrick's Day Parade Grand Marshal.
The event will include the popular Business Basket Silent Auctions, which take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Among the baskets donated to date is a leather coat from H&H Sport Shop, portable tables from Cedar Lake Engineering, a Mary Kay basket from Mary Kay representative Tanya Latour and several baskets with an Irish theme in honor of the 30th St. Patrick's Day Festival set for March 17. Businesses wishing to donate can bring their contributions to the Maple Lake Messenger office in downtown Maple Lake.
Serving as emcees for the event will be Maple Lake Mayor Mike Messina and District 881 Superintendent Mark Redemske.
The ANML wrestlers continued their successful season by qualifying 7 wrestlers for the individual portion of the state wrestling tournament on February 28-March 3 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Overall the Lightning had 10 wrestlers place in the top five.
"We wrestled about as well as we could have," said Head Coach Dean Jennissen. "Our goal was to have 14 placewinners, but this is the Section tournament, there are a lot of great wrestlers competing at a high level for the right to go to state. Our guys that didn't place wrestled hard too."
Leading the way for ANML were champions Nick Clemence at 145 and Derek Klatt at 189.
More information appears in this week's edition of the Messenger