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City celebrates 25 years of civic pride

St. Paul Park is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Heritage Days, but the seeds of the annual celebration of civic pride began three years earlier in 1982 when Mud Volleyball Days was celebrated, according to a South Washington County Bulletin news story.

It evolved into Heritage Days in 1985, after a city historical preservation committee decided the city needed a celebration.

Carol Rumpca, who headed the Heritage Days Committee until three years ago, volunteered that first year.

The brainchild of Sam Griffith, who worked for the Washington County Housing and Redevelopment Authority at that time, offered that racing outhouses might be fun.

Teams could build outhouses and four people could pull them to the finish line as fast as possible, he said.

The idea caught the public's attention and Don Leary and Ray Schmidt set it up as a Heritage Days event the first year. Eight teams entered.

It was part of the celebration for a number of years but was dropped.

It's being revived this year, due to the leadership of Willy Tennis of Tennis Sanitation.

An outhouse, built in Jim Domeier's shop but too heavy to be in the actual race, is being taken to area parades as a way to invite participation in the event and in Heritage Days, said Ruth Dinger, chair of the Heritage Days Committee.

Helicopter rides were included in the first year's events, but only for one year because of city concerns about collisions with electrical wires, according to Rumpca.

There was another event where people paid to throw pies at city council members that also lasted only one year. "That was really fun," she said.

In 1986, the first royalty pageant was held and Patty March was the first Miss Heritage Days, according to Rumpca. Four girls entered the pageant that was held in a conference room at the old city hall in the former St. Paul Park High School on Third Street.

In 1987, princesses were added to the royalty pageant. "It was the thought at the time that the queen would have other girls for company during parades and appearances," Rumpca said.

Mindy Rumpca, Carol and Ray's daughter, was Miss Heritage Days in 1988 and went on to be picked as Miss West Wind Princess for the St. Paul Winter Carnival, she said.

Though the pig roast was dropped after a few years, St. Paul Park firefighters and their wives and friends are still offering up tacos.

"Everybody just loves them," Rumpca said.

Since the beginning, themes have been picked by the committee by December following the August event, with most of them thought up by Rumpca.

"Everybody was really into the themes," she said. "We had so much fun."

"Aliens on Broadway," was one of her favorites.

"We rented an "alien" costume and Bruce Zenner wore it," she said. "It was fantastic."

The Saturday night street dance has been a mainstay of the event and hours have been extended this year.

Many classes who graduated from St. Paul Park High School organize reunions to coincide with Heritage Days, Dinger said.

"We're celebrating our community," Rumpca said. "That's what it's all about. We bring pride to the community."

Dinger is retiring from her job as chair of the event this year.

She, and her sister, Arlene, go to the White Pines Senior Living facility in Inver Grove Heights to lead a class in making greeting cards. She also wants to spend more time with the four grandchildren she has in day care.

"I'll miss the people involved," she said.

Rumpca is coming back as announcer for the parade this year.

Apparently it's hard to leave the celebration. "Maybe, I'll take the job of getting donations next year," Dinger said.

Heritage Days Schedule of events


St. Paul Park Heritage Days

"25 Years on Broadway" (theme)

Friday through Monday, Aug. 14 to 17

Schedule of Events

Friday, August 14

Bean bag toss, Park Place Sports Bar 10 a.m. to close

Music by Gilman's Crossing 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

40&8 Barbecue, American Legion 5 p.m.

Carnival, Broadway between 1st and 2nd 5 to 11 p.m.

Glow 'n Bowl, Park Grove Lanes 6 to 9 p.m.

Saturday, August 15

Pancake Breakfast, Masonic Temple 8 to 11 a.m.

Carnival 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Mud Volleyball Tournament 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Arts and Crafts 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Flea Market, Veteran's Park 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Food Concessions open 9 a.m.

Bean bag toss, Park Place Sports Bar 9 a.m. to close

Music by Gilman's Crossing 9 p.m. to close

Artist Mary Larson Silent Auction 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

445 Broadway

Coloring Contest 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

40&8 Barbecue, American Legion 11 a.m.

Parade 11 a.m.

Starts at Heritage Park, ends on 2nd and Broadway

Boy Scout Troop 83 Dunk Tank 12 to 8 p.m.

Between Franke's and American Legion

Live Music by Rock Man, Lions Bldg. 12:30 p.m.

Sponsored by St. Paul Park/Newport Lions

Parade Awards, Bandstand 12:30 p.m.

1st Fifty Auto Club Car Show 12:30 p.m.

Horseshoe Tournament 12:30 p.m.

Outhouse Races 1 to 3 p.m.

In front of Park Café

Kids Pedal-tractor Pull Races 2 p.m.

Registration starts at 1:30 p.m.

Near Park Place

Elvis Presley Tribute Artist Art Kistler 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Street Dance with music by Steve Millar & Diamondhead 7 to 11 p.m.

Co-sponsored by Tennis Sanitation, Gary Nelson of Duffy's Service Center and Keith Franke of Park Café

Sunday, August 16

Pancake Breakfast, American Legion 8 to 11 a.m.

Carnival 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

40&8 Barbecue, American Legion 11 a.m.

Mud Volleyball Tournament 11:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Food Concessions 12 to 5 p.m.

Boy Scout Troop 83 Dunk Tank 12 to 5 p.m.

Between Franke's and American Legion

Kiddie Parade 12 p.m.

2nd and Broadway

Garden Tractor Pull 12 p.m.

Kiddie Carnival 12:30 to 3 p.m.

Coloring Contest 12:30 to 3 p.m.

Community Band, Veteran's Park 2 p.m.

Egg Toss 2:30 p.m.

Mustache Contest 3 p.m.

Coloring Contest Winner, Bandstand 3:30 p.m.

Fireworks, Oltman Junior High School field Dusk

Cosponsored by Marathon Petroleum, and Council members Steve Hunstad and Jeff Swenson

Monday, Aug. 17

Miss and Junior Miss Heritage Days Pageant

7 p.m. Hope Community Church, 8300 Hyde Ave., Cottage Grove

Admission is a Heritage Days button, $5, which can be purchased in advance or at the door.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600