Even though it was an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Tracy tornado, several Minneota area residents lent a helping hand. The F5 tornado that pummeled Tracy on June 13, 1968 left nine people dead and 150 others injured.
It damaged 140 homes, 30 businesses and the elementary school. Five decades later, an event called "Never Forget" was held on Saturday to remember the nine people who lost their lives.
An early shower forced the scheduled Central Park performances of the Tracy Community Band and the Roots of Oak folk band to be cancelled.
There was a Sloppy Joe lunch, a bake sale and a commemorative tornado quilt raffle at the Tracy Lutheran Church next to the park.
At The Caboose, a dinner club on the west end of town, Uncle Ron's One-Man Band and Comedy Act entertained the audience in the morning.
Uncle Ron, aka Ron Larsen, grew up in nearby Walnut Grove and now resides in South Dakota. Also held at The Caboose was a silent auction with over 100 items and a weather presentation attended by over 150 people by KSTP-TV meteorologist Jonathan Yuhas.
But these events were made possible with the assistance of several members of the Mascot coverage area.
Barb Guttormsson of Taunton tirelessly baked 100 large sugar cookies in the shape of a tornado, including swirled frosting on top to give the appearance of the spinning action of a twister.
She also packaged each in a sealed bag provided for her and drove to Tracy with her husband, Jon, to deliver the cookies. Both Barb and Jon then assisted with the silent auction.
Charlie Callens of Minneota made and donated two four-inch silver medallions, complete with an inscription on each, for the medallion hunt.
Although the medallion hunt ended up getting rained out, Callens' medallion were auctioned off and each enticed a generous donation. Callens also made and donated the medallions for the Boxelder Bug Days event last September.
Cynthia Sabinske, a native of Tracy now living in Ghent, generously sewed and donated a commemorative tornado quilt for the raffle.
Kari Bierman of Tracy won the quilt after her name was picked out of a bucket by Jonathan Yuhas of KSTP-TV.
Rodney and Darlene Rye of rural Porter donated three potted lilac bushes for the silent auction.
On that fateful day the tornado hit Tracy, Rodney was on his tractor when he heard the news on his radio.
He and a neighbor drove down to Tracy and offered their services, cutting fallen trees with chainsaws for two days.
Minneota artist Loralee Miller used her magical brush to paint a double scene; the tornado and the damaged elementary school.
Mascot Publisher Byron Higgin had the winning bid for that item.
Minneota Senior Center Coordinator Joanne Myrvik provided the recipe for the 40 pounds of Sloppy Joes that were cooked and sold at a noon lunch at the Tracy Lutheran Church.
Mascot employee Brittany Moorse printed out 10 large compelling 9 x 14 quotes that had been uttered by various Tracy residents following the tornado.
Cherri Schmig, also of the Mascot, laminated each of them for us. They were hung on a wall, along with several tornado photos, on a wall during the silent auction.
Higgin spent most of the day at the tornado event. His checkbook was on fire as he purchased several silent auction items, including an autographed Torii Hunter bat donated by the Minnesota Twins that he was able to obtain by winning a bidding war against others.
Another of the items that he was the highest bidder on was a size-17 basketball sneaker from Gorgui Dieng that was donated by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Lyon County Historical Museum Director Jennifer Andries volunteered her services the entire day at the event.
After being the lunch cashier at the church, she helped clean up, then loaded her vehicle with items also needed at the silent auction and drove to The Caboose.
She then assisted with the silent auction before staying late to help clean up and pack up items at the end of the day.
Sometimes it's hard to find good help. And sometimes it's not.
I'm happy to say the latter was true for me. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.