Peace Gardens to celebrate 75 years
BISMARCK -- Seventy-five years ago this Saturday, an estimated 50,000 Americans and Canadians descended on an undeveloped spot on the North Dakota-Manitoba border and watched as dignitaries from the two nations dedicated a rock cairn inscribed wi...
BISMARCK -- Seventy-five years ago this Saturday, an estimated 50,000 Americans and Canadians descended on an undeveloped spot on the North Dakota-Manitoba border and watched as dignitaries from the two nations dedicated a rock cairn inscribed with a pledge that "as long as men shall live, we will not take up arms against one another."
The International Peace Garden's diamond anniversary falls this Saturday and folks at the unique cross-border park are getting ready for another crowd, its size unknown.
Despite storm damage on the night of June 24 that washed away some flower beds, hailed out others and collapsed the main office building's basement wall, the gardens have been rehabbed in a flurry of activity and are ready for their close-up, horticulturist Connie Lagerquist said Friday.
"There will be flower gardens and plenty to see and lots of things to do," she said.
Interest in the anniversary celebration seems high, said Kathy McGhan, administrative assistant in the garden's office.
"It's unreal the people that are calling and on the Web (site) and there really is a buzz about it," she said.
The office has heard from people who were present 75 years ago and one woman wrote from McAllen, Texas, to say her father took part in the 1932 cross-border tug-of-war, or "Tug of Peace" during the dedication, McGhan said, a contest that will be recreated Saturday at 5 p.m.
"My dear father, Ray Cool, was the end man" on the U.S. rope, wrote Elsie Cool of McAllen, Texas, who said her dad recalls the U.S. won the contest that year.
Anniversary events run from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, with the Tribute to Peace program at 4 p.m.
But visitors can come at any time, as the 2,300-acre garden is open for visiting at all hours, 365 days a year.
Rides in the Peace Garden's hot air balloon, "the Ambassador," start at 5 p.m., and a barbecue meal is available at 6.
Events also include the Heritage Market Place selling Indian beadwork, willow furniture, hand-blown glass pieces and wares by numerous other artisans, and the day ends with a concert with numerous performers.
Crowds could swell somewhat because the anniversary is coinciding with the nearby Dunseith, N.D., centennial, which is also Saturday, McGhan said.
At the height of the preparations and repairs, Dunseith's community club gathered up a $10,000 cash donation for the Peace Garden, a gift even more touching considering Dunseith has a census of about 700.
"It was a tear jerker," McGhan says of the unexpected presentation.
Chief Executive Officer Doug Hevenor praised the "tremendous community response" in the days after the storm, when people in North Dakota and Manitoba donated materials to rebuild washed-away top soil, area nurseries called to offer new bedding plants, and ordinary folks called to volunteer labor.
Lagerquist said people from Souris, Manitoba and Rugby, N.D., have come to help, "and more are coming on Monday."
But she also praised her staff for doing the lions' share of work to get the gardens rehabilitated. The garden has suffered some flower beds being washed away by rains five of the last seven years, Lagerquist said.
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