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Community Center turns 5

It's been five years since the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center officially opened its doors to the public on Dec. 14, 2001.

In that time, the $10 million, state-of-the art facility has grown its membership to more than 4,000. Annual usage has increased from 108,000 "check-ins" -- i.e., the total number of people who walk in its doors -- in its first year to an estimated 200,000 in 2006.

"For more than 20 years, this place was always a want and a need," says Stu Omberg, the community center's current CEO. "Now, like the lake, the beach, the schools, the library, etc., the DLCCC is one of the things that defines our community."

In short, Omberg continued, "What was now a dream, is now a reality -- and it's time to celebrate."

Starting today (Sunday) and continuing through Thursday, Dec. 14, the DLCCC will be offering a series of special activities and promotions in observance of its fifth anniversary.

"We got together and decided five years of existence means five days of celebrating," Omberg explained. As a "thank you" for the continued support from donors, event sponsors and the community as a whole, all scheduled events for the anniversary celebration will be free and open to the public -- and that means the public as a whole, not just enrolled DLCCC members, he added.

Starting things off today will be a "Family Fun Day," with activities centered around the facility's BTD Aquatics Center. Kim Bettcher, director of programming for the aquatics center, says the celebration will mark the official debut of the pool's newest attraction, the "Dewdrop," which was donated to the facility by Waste Management and installed by Olson Pool & Spa of Hawley. (The exterior graphics were designed by Mark Olson of Fast Signs.)

Today's activities at the aquatics center will include a free pool party from 1-4 p.m., which in addition to the Dewdrop will also feature the large, floating "Hank the Hound" raft, free refreshments and activities including a dive for toys and a cannonball contest.

Yes, that's right, a cannonball contest -- and it's open "for all ability levels," Bettcher emphasizes. Each contestant will be allowed three attempts to land the perfect cannonball -- with bonus points awarded to those who do a belly flop.

Bettcher says the involvement in classes and youth programs at the DLCCC, such as "Hot Hands" and the Sunfish swim team, has seen dramatic growth over the past five years. "I often ask myself what we did before this place," she adds. "There are so many wonderful things going on here."

Helping seniors keep fit

Then, on Monday, the focus will shift toward the community's senior population. Senior Day activities will include a cardio water class at 8:30 a.m. and arthritis water class at 10 a.m., with both classes open to all area senior citizens, free of charge. From 9-11:30 a.m., guests of the center can learn more about the DLCCC's new Silver Sneakers fitness program, which is geared toward its senior membership, at the program information booth. Starting at noon, there will be a series of workshops for seniors that cover relevant topics such as arthritis, Medicare, long term care, estate planning, hospice and more.

Other Monday afternoon activities will include a 2 p.m. piano concert by Anne Jorgenson in the facility's Historic Holmes Theatre; free dessert served in the Holmes Theatre Ballroom at 3 p.m.; and at 4:15 p.m., a special staging of the DLCCC Afterschool Program's original production, "The Magi," based on the classic O. Henry holiday story, The Gift of the Magi.

Win $100 enrollment deal

Tuesday, Dec. 12 is New Member Day. From 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., the DLCCC will be open for tours and free membership consultations. As a special incentive for new members, the DLCCC will be offering a one-day-only enrollment package worth more than $100.

That package, according to public relations coordinator Kesley Myhre, will include not only a one-year membership, but also a complimentary DLCCC t-shirt -- featuring the brand-new logo that was specially created for the center by Arvig Communications Systems -- as well as a DLCCC water bottle also featuring the new logo; a gift certificate good for two free tickets to an upcoming show at the Historic Holmes Theatre; and $5 in "DLCCC Bucks," which can basically be used to purchase anything at the center including merchandise and theater tickets, or to offset class enrollment and activity participation fees. In addition, all processing fees for new memberships will be waived for the day.

Free coffee for members

Wednesday, Dec. 13 will be Member Appreciation Day, with an open house at Mary's Brew, the coffee shop located in the DLCCC's main lobby, from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. There will be free coffee for all enrolled members, Bettcher noted. The KidZone will be open all day, and there will be free cookies featuring "Dora the Explorer" characters Dora and Diego. There will also be t-shirts featuring the new DLCCC logo available for $5.

According to Amy Stoller Stearns, administrator of the Historic Holmes Theatre, the center's new logo and mission statement were created specifically for the celebration, with assistance from Arvig Communications Systems -- which not only designed the logo, but helped facilitate the creation of a new, simplified mission statement: "Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center -- the center for quality experiences to learn, grow and play."

Holiday fun

The week's activities will conclude on Thursday, Dec. 14, with Community Day, starting at 4:30 p.m. with a special appearance by the Holiday Train at the Soo Line train crossing at Holmes Street, which is within a short walking distance of the center. The DLCCC Community Carnival runs from 5:30-8 p.m., with carnival games in the fieldhouse as well as a giant slide, clowns, and free cotton candy, popcorn, snow cones and hot dogs.

The final activity of the day, Stearns notes, will be an Airplane Toss at 7:45 p.m. Participants will be asked to toss a paper airplane from the railing at the edge of the second floor walking track down to a bucket on the floor of the fieldhouse below. Anyone who manages to land a plane in the bucket will receive a free, one-year Premier Plus membership at the DLCCC.

"It's hard to believe we've been open for five years," Omberg says. "This celebration is a 'thank you' to all those who had the vision to believe this place was possible -- to the community, and especially to our donors. It's a celebration of this facility, and also a way to thank those who helped build it, and support it."

For more information about the DLCCC, call 218-844-4221 or check out the Web site at

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454