President's Column: "That Was Then. This is Now."

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of reuniting with about 100 high school classmates at our 40 year class reunion (Technical High School, 1976). 

 I joined with a half dozen other classmates in helping to plan and prepare for the gathering. Because of my continuing residence and community development role in St. Cloud following graduation, I was asked to assemble information about lodging options, favorite restaurants and sites to see. As I assembled information to go out with the event registration materials, it gave me opportunity to reflect on all that has changed within our community, most of which I’m truly thankful for and affirms why Greater St. Cloud is such a marvelous place to live, work and engage. But it also gave me cause to reflect on what has not changed, most of which I'm truly thankful for.

 Some of my standout memories and reflections include:

 Quarry Park. What was a highly popular but completely unauthorized pastime during my high school and college years has now been transformed into a truly unique, popular and legitimate public park that appropriately now garners statewide and national recognition. The class of 1976 frequented many of the quarry swimming holes and our favorites were referred to as "100 Acres", "Melrose Quarry", "Deep 7 (now Quarry Park)", and to a lesser extent "Dodd" located near TH 10.

 Paramount Theatre. Now a beautifully restored theatre for live performances, art shows and classes.

 House of Pizza. Same great pizza, same great location.

 Lake George. The pool is gone but the bathhouse has been beautifully restored and transformed into very attractive community meeting room spaces.  Lake George and Eastman Park remain a centerpiece for the community and home to the Summertime By George! weekly summer music festival and other community celebrations throughout the year. 

 Fandel’s Department Store. The three-story downtown store frequented by my classmates and me. It was also one of few buildings that included an elevator attendant to escort you from floor to floor.  That block is now home to Herberger’s and Capital One.

 The Hays Theater. This downtown theater was host to the movie "Earth Quake", complete with then-state-of-the-art sound effects that left viewers wondering if the theater was crumbling down. The Hays was also the site of more than one "streaking" incident. Fortunately, "streaking" was a short lived fad.

 Municipal Pool. Having lived just 4 blocks south of Tech High School, my childhood summers were spent at Municipal Pool and winters, ice skating on Lake George. Now, the pool is a splash pad, and skaters continue to make figure eights on the lake when frozen.

 Ours truly is a great community. It always has been and always will be. If I wasn't entirely convinced of it, I never would've opted to stay and grow my education, career, family and social network right here in my hometown.

 Greater St. Cloud: A Region On The Grow!

 Patti Gartland, GSDC President

Posted on August 26, 2016 .