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Admirals share their favorite memories

Past admirals met at the Jaycees trolley for a photo on Tuesday. (Brian Basham/Tribune)

Hours, weeks, months goes into planning the Northwest Water Carnival each year. The Jaycees put on the biggest event in Detroit Lakes of the summer, and there's always one person -- up until the last 10 years or so anyway -- who answers to the highest rank -- admiral.

Starting in 1935, the Water Carnival has had a leader. That year it was F.C. Schroeder. In 1936, it was Dick Glaholt, in 1937, the event was canceled and then in 1938, Glaholt served as admiral once again.

For many years after that, men led the charge of admiral, with Karen Skoyles breaking that tradition in 1994. In 1998, Jim and Dana Gulson served as the first co-admirals. This year is the first year for two couples to serve as admirals -- Johnna and Chris Thorson and Jackie and Nathan Weber.

Whoever is serving as president of the Jaycees gets to pick the admirals.

For a full list of past Water Carnival admirals and for a full schedule of events for this year's 75th celebration, which begins Friday, visit

We asked some past admirals about what they liked best about their summer at the helm:

What is your favorite memory of being admiral?

In my year, we had a parade ground review at the Washington Ball Park featuring two of the best and most interesting bands ever seen here. One was the high school marching band from tiny Marshall, Minnesota -- disciplined, precise and musically outstanding. The other was the Queen's Own Cameron Highlander Bagpipe Band from Winnipeg in their prime -- biggest, best and most entertaining. They took turns marching, playing and strutting for an hour. We were so proud of that show. I don't think it has ever been repeated or duplicated since. -- Lynn Hummel, 1965 admiral

My best memory of my water carnival is after putting all of the work into planning it, seeing people of all ages having a good time, and realizing it was all worth it. It's truly an event that has something for everyone. -- Bryan Domholt, 2004 admiral

My favorite memory as an admiral is during the Water Carnival dance the Bagpipers from Winnipeg marched in playing the bagpipes -- it was awesome. The parade is my favorite event and of course the bagpipers! -- Rita Stelzer, 2002 admiral

There are many great memories, but my fondest would have to be watching the start of the parade. The pride I felt as the flag marched by and realizing that all my hard work, and the work put in by the rest of the Jaycees, was coming to an end -- and that the 66th Annual NW Water Carnival was a success, proven by the number of people and kids who had fun while attending the many events that are Water Carnival. I am still proud of those accomplishments. -- Patti (Nelson) Carr, 2001 admiral

As admiral of the 50th, it was an honor to have F.C. Frank Schroeder, admiral of the very first Water Carnival, to serve as the Grand Marshall of the 50th Parade of the Northwest. -- Dale Westley, 1985 admiral

The Parade of the Northwest is one of my favorite events of the Water Carnival. During my year as the 73rd Admiral, it was a great feeling of accomplishment and relief riding in the convertible with my family along the parade route. Waving to all of the people and throwing candy to the kids made me appreciate everyone that attended all of the events throughout the 10 days making it another great Water Carnival! -- Cara Frank, 2008 admiral

My favorite memory is all of the great people that helped run the 52nd Water Carnival. We had over 50 chair people and many of them are still active volunteers here in Detroit Lakes. Those individuals ran a Water Carnival that raised the money to rebuild the Pavilion, which at that time was in danger of being demolished, due to a lack of funding. An agreement was put together for the Jaycees to raise the money to purchase the materials such as new windows, doors, and paint. The Lakes Area Builders agreed to do the installation of the materials. With those commitments, the city agreed to pay for replacing the roofing. Along with the additional remodeling done a few years ago, which included new bathrooms, kitchen, and dressing rooms, the Pavilion is again a highlight of the Detroit Lakes area. -- Mark Hagen, 1987 admiral

The parade route changed due to Washington Avenue construction and the Coast Guard appeared and cancelled the power boat races due to a pending storm, but we were able to bring back the water ski show that was better than Wisconsin Dells! -- Ann Leonard, 1997 admiral

A fond memory from the 56th annual Water Carnival involved the big '60s dance, the evening before the final day of that summer's festival. A favorite '60s group of mine was the Grass Roots. It so happened that summer, members of the group were actually touring the country, and we were able to book their appearance. My dance chairperson that year requested that we go after Herman's Hermits. They, too, were available.

"It seemed like a great line-up -- a line-up that we had to put out a good amount of money for. Most Water Carnival events went well, with the bottom line looking good. However, in the back of my mind, was the amount of money we had to pay these bands, and the hope that we would 'come out okay.'

"Well, by 10 that evening, when the pavilion was enjoying a capacity crowd, I could relax. Ticket sales were fantastic -- not to mention the 38 kegs of beer that were sold that evening. By 11:30 or so, following a quite hectic week, I found myself exhausted and made my way to our "on-location" headquarters, and promptly fell asleep, while my wife (who served as treasurer) and other committee members began to tally up some preliminary totals for the night -- it looked good. I never did see the Hermits! -- Dave Aune, 1991 admiral

The thing I remember about the year I was admiral was that we had more bands than there ever was before; we had six or seven, I'm not sure. Of course they cost us about $600 to $700 a piece, so we had a lot of contributions from various businessmen. Thanks to the businesses -- without them there would be no Water Carnival.

A friend of mine was a member of the American Legion out of Fargo, a drum and bugle choir. This day of the Water Carnival, it was about 100 degrees. It was hot. They came down here by the Pavilion, playing "How Dry I Am," and walked right into the lake. They come back out and got in the parade and finished the parade.

One of our past honorary admirals, John Engberg, was the one who built and designed the Buccaneers. This was his idea, worked the whole thing up. -- Jack Renner, 1956 admiral

What I remember the most is how much fun it was working together and getting together with everybody. You really got to meet people you wouldn't meet otherwise, and some of those friendships have lasted all these years. We go back all those years from the Jaycees. The Water Carnivals all kind of blend together, but the memories of the fun together, that lingers on and the people you met and worked with. It was a great part of growing up, to be as active as you got to be when you were admiral. -- Duane Wething, 1961 admiral

Two significant events: One was under the chairmanship of Dr. Roger Hesby, we had the first All Timer Hockey tournament. We had like Bobby Hull and some pros here. From that came the Canadian Hockey League and the program they have here today. And then we had our oasis, which ran seven continuous days. -- Wayne Benson, 1973 admiral

The time that we blew up the Water Carnival! The Water Carnival fireworks were shot off the dock, and the fireworks blew a hole in the bottom of the boat. All of us guys that were in the boat, all of us hit the water. We were near shore, but far enough out to get wet. That was fun. -- Wayne Lance, 1951 admiral

Talking to the people who make Detroit Lakes and the Water Carnival their "must do" every year. Coming back for specific events like the sandcastle building contest or the run or the parade but willing to try new ones, too! -- Kim Bettcher, 2006 co-admiral