The Detroit Lakes City Park was unusually crowded for a week night on Thursday, July 29. The reason? The city's Sesquicentennial Birthday Bash.

City staff, volunteers and guests celebrated Detroit Lakes' 150th birthday with a variety of events, beginning with an Ojibwe blessing and song, and ending with a special edition of the Noon Rotary Club's Thursday Trucks & Tunes.

White Earth Ojibwe spiritual leader Mike Swan and the Smoke Stack Singers got the birthday festivities underway with an Ojibwe blessing, pipe ceremony and "song of honor" which Swan said was meant "for everyone in the community."

Mike Swan (at left) and the Smoke Stack Singers got the Detroit Lakes Sesquicentennial Birthday program underway Thursday afternoon, presenting an Ojibwe blessing, pipe ceremony and song honoring the community. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
Mike Swan (at left) and the Smoke Stack Singers got the Detroit Lakes Sesquicentennial Birthday program underway Thursday afternoon, presenting an Ojibwe blessing, pipe ceremony and song honoring the community. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

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Swan, who teaches Ojibwe language, history and culture at Detroit Lakes High School, said he was honored to share some of that language and culture as part of the city's celebration.

Next came remarks from Detroit Lakes Mayor Matt Brenk, Vice Mayor Ron Zeman, sailboat artist Hans Gilsdorf and Becker County Museum Director Becky Mitchell.

"Since its beginnings, Detroit Lakes has always been a city was forward thinking and progressive," Brenk said, referring to such examples as "quality of life"-enhancing projects like the creation of the Detroit Lakes Pavilion and City Park, its mile-long City Beach, Detroit Mountain and the community center, just to name a few. He also read aloud a letter of congratulations from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.

Detroit Lakes Mayor Matt Brenk speaks at the city's Sesquicentennial Birthday Bash on Thursday afternoon in the City Park. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
Detroit Lakes Mayor Matt Brenk speaks at the city's Sesquicentennial Birthday Bash on Thursday afternoon in the City Park. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

Gilsdorf talked about how the original sailboat sculpture was first conceived and constructed in 2007, with funding from the 2003 "Sunny in DL" public art project (some examples of which can still be found around the city), and how the project to refurbish and relocate the sculpture for the city's 150th birthday came to be.

Detroit Lakes artist Hans Gilsdorf talks about the history of the city's sailboat sculpture and how it came to be refurbished, relocated and rededicated as part of the 150th birthday celebration on Thursday, July 29 — which is the official anniversary of the city's establishment in 1871. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
Detroit Lakes artist Hans Gilsdorf talks about the history of the city's sailboat sculpture and how it came to be refurbished, relocated and rededicated as part of the 150th birthday celebration on Thursday, July 29 — which is the official anniversary of the city's establishment in 1871. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

"There has been a lot of passion for this sculpture," said Gilsdorf, noting that there were a multitude of questions about where it went after it was taken down last fall to begin the refurbishing process.

He noted that the project "wasn't a one-person thing," and gave credit to the many people and businesses that had donated their time and talents to make it happen, and said he felt "blessed with the opportunity to help this city look better."

Mitchell talked about the time capsule project, which had included such varied objects as a smartphone, a LEGO piece, aerial photographs of the high school, magazines and newspapers, face masks, and much more. The time capsule was then lowered into a hole that had been dug next to the plaza housing the newly refurbished and relocated sailboat sculpture.

The Detroit Lakes Sesquicentennial Time Capsule was gently lowered into the ground by city employees (left to right) Kelcey Klemm, Tom Gulon and Shawn King on Thursday afternoon, after which it was buried as part of the city's 150th Birthday Bash festivities. It is scheduled to be unearthed on the city's 200th birthday in 2071. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
The Detroit Lakes Sesquicentennial Time Capsule was gently lowered into the ground by city employees (left to right) Kelcey Klemm, Tom Gulon and Shawn King on Thursday afternoon, after which it was buried as part of the city's 150th Birthday Bash festivities. It is scheduled to be unearthed on the city's 200th birthday in 2071. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

She also discussed the creation of the museum's new book, "Becker County Minnesota in the 20th Century," which was written by Frazee native Pippi Mayfield, who was at the park on Thursday for a book signing.

The celebration concluded with a ribbon cutting in front of the sailboat sculpture, complete with a shower of glitter and streamers.

After the formal celebration was concluded, the community was invited to enjoy free face painting from Painted Turtle artist Tiffany Wheelwright, the "Imaginick" magic show with magician Nick Bretz, a free ice cream social courtesy of Central Market, and a "Hoot & Toot" fleet vehicle showcase featuring vehicles from the city's fire department, public utilities and police department.

Painted Turtle artist Tiffany Wheelwright adds some glitter to the design she just finished painting on 3-year-old Noella Weiler's face during the Detroit Lakes 150th Birthday Bash in the City Park on Thursday, July 29. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
Painted Turtle artist Tiffany Wheelwright adds some glitter to the design she just finished painting on 3-year-old Noella Weiler's face during the Detroit Lakes 150th Birthday Bash in the City Park on Thursday, July 29. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

The evening concluded with a Trucks and Tunes performance under the bandshell by singer and musician Matt Aakre, and an opportunity to enjoy some of the area's best food truck cuisine.

The city's week-long Sesquicentennial festivities began with Art in the Park on Sunday, July 25, and were set to conclude with the inaugural Intrepid Adventure Film Festival at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion on Friday, July 30.