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125 years of progress in New York Mills

The Merchants Hotel of New York Mills is shown in this photograph dated 1912. Among the amenities were saunas located at the back of the building.

If the 1984 centennial was the celebration of the century, then this summer's 125th anniversary for New York Mills is the party of the century and a quarter.

A celebration planning committee formed a couple months ago and will meet regularly to organize activities and events for the 125th weekend, set for July 3-5.

Rachel Eklund is heading up the committee and says plans are coming together well with more people stepping forward and volunteering to help.

Among the major events planned for the weekend are a parade and street dance Friday, July 3. The time capsule, which was filled 25 years ago during the town's centennial will be opened prior to the parade. The annual Millers/Bluffton fireworks baseball game is Saturday, July 4 at Jacobson Field in Smith Park. The game starts at 7 p.m., with fireworks to follow.

Rachel says the committee is working on a special project and program to be held at the school. She has invited local businesses to dig up old photographs and provide information for a history of New York Mills businesses display. Rachel, who worked for the telephone office in Mills back in the 1950's, plans on setting up an old switchboard and phone booth. She hopes to have a history of Lund Boats display and plans on bringing back memories of the famous Dairy Bar. Rachel says she wants to track down some of the ladies who used to work at the Dairy Bar and sell nickle ice cream cones - just like the good ol' days.

On Saturday, a program with entertainment is planned at the school to coincide with the business history displays.

When the Civic & Commerce Association a number of months ago was looking for someone to head up a planning committee, it didn't take much convincing for Rachel to take on the challenge. She grew up here and holds New York Mills dear to her heart, and she's very passionate about planning a great celebration and proudly putting the community on display.

"We're trying to bring back the history of New York Mills," Rachel says. "I want to see New York Mills live. We have to keep our community together if we want to keep our town."

As the planning process moves forward the committee is working out details. The group met at the bakery recently to discuss some ideas and joining Rachel at that meeting were committee members Helen Salo, Dolly Tumberg, LeRoy and Josie Smith.

With the parade and street dance highlighting Friday's evening activities, the celebration continues for a full day on Saturday, July 3. Main street will be blocked off on Saturday for a celebration of food and fun. Vendors will set up in the street and the committee is working on bringing on some old-time musicians to play. Dolly also reports she has a local photographer to take old-time photos at the Bar on Main building.

A golf tournament at Balhepburn is planned for Saturday morning, as well as a pool tournament in the basement of City Hall.

On Sunday, the Eagles Cafe is catering a community dinner at Smith Park. Rachel says she would also like to get a barber shop quartet or bag piper to entertain during this event.

As the committee meetings continue, and the more people Rachel talks to, the more she says people are coming forward volunteering to help in any number of capacities.