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Warm weather, cool party

The following description could have been written about the 21st Annual Ice Cream Social at the Community United Church of Christ in St. Paul Park held last week.

"We held it on the church grounds. There was a cake walk, sundaes, pie, games and old fashioned fun."

In truth, it was written about the social held July 28, 1988, and recorded in the church's history.

The event is usually held on a hot, sunny day. Church members and friends start the evening with hamburgers, brats, hot dogs and pop. But that's just for starters.

After the sun drops below the tree line at Pullman and Summit avenues, shade falls over the church parking lot and people head for pie a la mode. Youngsters prefer just plain ice cream.

The event raised $2,000 last year with half the money coming from a quilt raffle. Jan Woodside has made the quilts for many years.

Pies, to be topped with vanilla ice cream, and cakes for the cakewalk are donated by members.

There were not as many homemade pies and cakes as there were in past years. When a child wins a cakewalk, he or she usually picks a store-bought cake because it's familiar.

"Some women are upset by that because the kids pick store-bought over homemade," said Heidi Ferguson, who was in charge of calling people to donate cakes and pies this year.

There might be fewer homemade desserts, but the basics of the event have not changed much over the years, possibly a reflection of the endurance of the church.

The church, one of the oldest in south Washington County, has undergone many changes since it was founded in 1888. It began as a Presbyterian congregation, and a year later a church was built for $4,600 on the northeast corner of Ninth Avenue and Third Street.

Dorothy Goth, now deceased, was an amateur historian. She wrote the following about summer events probably held between 1910 and 1915. The story is in a pamphlet commemorating the church's centennial in 1988.

"Bible school was the fun event of the summer. We would all pile on a hayrack and drive to Grey Cloud Island where we enjoyed races, games, food and lemonade made in large crocks ... Later, we had picnics on Harriet Island. We took the Burlington Motor (train) to St. Paul, walked from Union Depot to Harriet Island, which at that time had a small zoo, a picnic area and a bath house where you could rent bathing suits and go swimming in the Mississippi River ... "

In 1920, the church became the Community Congregational Church. Three years later it got its current name: Community United Church of Christ.

In January of 1950, a fire destroyed the church.

Meeting temporarily in the Newport Masonic Lodge, the congregation got money from other churches and dedicated the new parish hall in November 1951 at the current site. A sanctuary was built in 1956.

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.
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