Each month we want to highlight members of our community who are supporting Minneapolis parks through their involvement with the Parks Foundation. We are constantly inspired by the people who care for and use our parks and we want to recognize the many individuals and organizations who make our system incredible through their generosity. Thank you!
This month we received a letter from Rickie Ressler, the partner of John Ressler who we profiled from last month.
Dear Minneapolis Parks Foundation,
I find it interesting that as we think back on the communities that have shaped our lives we typically focus on people, families, relationships and friends. Less explicit in our memories are the infrastructures and locations that weave our lives together. As I think back on my life it is clear that the Minneapolis Park System is one of those threads that is woven into my life.
My first five years in Post WWII Minneapolis were spent just south of Lake Street less that two blocks from Powderhorn Park. It is amazing that seventy years later, I can vividly remember the picnics and fireworks of the Fourth of July as we positioned our blankets on the slope overlooking the Lake and Island. I remember the lights and music of the amusement rides as I sat safely perched on my fathers shoulders strolling the Park. As seemingly, thousands of people lined the slopes, I can still hear the oohs and aahs as the “big booms” filled the sky.
Those were the days of, at best, one car per family. Street Cars were the key to moving about the city. The Aquatennial was in its hey day and I recall taking the Street Car downtown for the Parade and then making our way to Theodore Wirth Park for the spectacular water skiing show. Sitting on the bleachers, overlooking the lake, I remember skiers flying off jumps and a pyramid of beautiful women against a golden sunset. I have no recollection of returning home. It must have been a long day for a 3 or 4 year old!
As I turned five our family, like many baby boomers, moved to the suburbs. Over the next six years my four brothers and sisters arrived in fairly rapid succession. That resulted in my father working long hours and my mother holding a family together with limited funds. The one family event that remained consistent over those lean years was the Sunday afternoon drive. We would typically head down a tree canopied Portland Avenue until we reached Minnehaha Parkway. As we enviously dreamed of the beautiful homes along the Parkway, we would eventually reach Minnehaha Falls. We never tired of the view, the rushing water, wading in the creek and when we got older, actually walking behind the falls! Minnehaha Falls remains one of those threads from my childhood that has continued through my life. My husband and I have spent hours there, enjoying Sven Skarnesdag with our Grandparents, picnics with our children, birding with friends, indulging at Sea Salt and exploring trails and the Creek with Grandchildren.
The more I reflect, the more memories come to the surface;
• swimming, picnics, sailing, fishing and archery at Lake Nokomis
• sledding and skating at Diamond Lake
• studying at Riverside Park as a U of M student
• playing softball and tennis with high school and college friends
• seeing Paul Simon in concert at Parade Stadium
• enjoying the sun, shade and Milk Carton Boat races at Lake Calhoun,
• band concerts and the rose garden at Lake Harriet
• canoeing at Cedar Lake
And the list could go on and on. We don’t often think about how a park system, a background infrastructure, enhances our lives and experiences. Yet it is one of those threads that weaves through the fabric of our life experiences. A thread that not only brings beauty and pleasure to our lives but in fact, strengthens the bonds of community and families.
Thank you to the Minneapolis Park System, we are proud to support the important work you do for our communities.
Sincerely yours, Rickie Ressler
Featured image: Courtesy John & Rickie Ressler