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Going wild in Minnesota

Written By : SERA JANINE. As the twelfth largest state in the United States of America, Minnesota also has its fair share of historical landmarks. One such place that values
03 Dec 2010 12:00

image Written By : SERA JANINE. As the twelfth largest state in the United States of America, Minnesota also has its fair share of historical landmarks.
One such place that values its history is Stillwater City in Minnesota.
Formerly a lumbering town, the city sits on the banks of the St Croix River, and across from the state of Wisconsin.
It also boasts a bridge which enables one to walk from one US state to another- Minnesota to Wisconsin.
Stillwater is also one of Minnesota’s oldest cities even surpassing Minneapolis’s existence.
It is usually referred to as the birth place of Minnesota.
A trolley ride around the hillside residential area of the city, showed the historical landmarks of the place.
Vintage homes lined most of the hillside overlooking the St Croix River.
We were also shown an old church which has been turned into a family home.
Stories were also shared about how, to this day, former Stillwater residents or visitors usually go knocking on its doors in the hope of seeking divine intervention but instead are greeted by a family.
The lumbering history of the area can also be seen on the homes that are built there.
There are quite a number of log houses.
The tour guide explained how in the lumbering days logs were floated downstream on the St Croix River towards the St Croix Lumber Mill down the river.
The city also had the State’s prison.
A few notable people that live or lived in Stillwater include outspoken Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and actress Rachael Leigh Cook.
The cool weather in Minnesota saw the St Croix River at a freezing temperature, an attempt to touch the water, left my fingers with a numb feeling for some time.
The tour in Stillwater also saw visits to antique shops and places showcasing the rich history of the city.
After the trolley tour it was back to downtown Minneapolis and the hotel where preparations were made for an equally interesting programme.
The aim of the US Department of State’s Edward R Murrow Program for Journalist was not only about professional exchange, we also had to get in touch with the American people and be part of some of their favourite past times.
And in Minnesota, the sport of ice hockey, ranks as the most popular game with the professional team Minnesota Wild having a huge following.
So the evening saw the group join thousands of ice hockey fans at the Xcel Energy Centre in St Paul to watch a game of ice hockey between Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks.
I was looking forward to the game, as my only knowledge of the sport came from the movie Mighty Ducks- a favourite in yesteryears.
Entering the Energy Centre I was once again overwhelmed with the huge building and to get to the top level, one needed to go in the elevator, the centre has five levels.
The group got a seat on the fourth level. Those who were scared of heights quickly forgot this once the view of the main arena came into view.
Just to be in the spirit of the game, I bought a Minnesota Wild t-shirt which had most members of the group reminding me that ice hockey was nothing like rugby.
“Will there be blood?” I asked one of our guides.
“Sometimes, but it is really a fast paced game, so there is usually some scratches here and there, he said.
Yes, very much like rugby, apart from the field it is played on.
I was not ready for people being thrown up against the wall as the game heated up.
Yes, there was some of the promised blood.
It was just as interesting to watch the fans as the players. And as Halloween fell on the next day, people were dressed in their costumes and after a few beers, which was sold at the games, the cheers were wild.
And the crowd went wild for the home team; however, it was not to be as they lost 3-1 to the Blackhawks- who are also the champion team of the national series.
On Halloween, American families observe the holiday by putting out jack-o-lantern pumpkins on their front yard or porch and sweets are handed out to trick-or-treating children and adults.
On the streets of downtown Minneapolis, Saturday was already a hive of activity.
People came out in numbers in their Halloween costume and the nightclubs had special Halloween themes for the night.
A club I went to had transvestites entertain the crowd in Halloween costumes and thrilled the crowd with their Halloween-themed songs.
This was one of my most memorable memories of Minneapolis.
Sunday, saw Halloween and we also assisted some families with the carving of their jack o lanterns and also in giving out candy to those who came knocking.
Back in the city area, some clubs had competitions for the best Halloween costumes; a heart patient is advised to stay indoors on the night as it can get pretty scary out there.
For next week, I will share my experience of being part of the US’s mid-term elections and the campaigns that herald it.
The Sunday Magazine will also have my tale of my visit to Pensacola Beach, Florida and how I became an honorary citizen there.

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