BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN For 22 years, Debbie DeBeer has had a vision of a Delano Heritage Trail featuring the history of the city.
This year, it is beginning to come to fruition.
Nine people attended an organizational meeting in May, and a second meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, June 10, at The 221 Common House, located at 221 Second St. N. All are welcome.
“It’s going to take people who have a passion for history, particularly Delano history, even if you don’t live in Delano,” DeBeer said.
Her interest in the history of Delano began when she moved to the community in 1997.
“When I moved here, they were talking about historic Delano,” DeBeer said. “What is the history?”
Not only did she want to learn the history, but she wanted to showcase it. One way to do so would be a heritage trail, similar to a trail she was familiar with during her time living in Singapore.
She is a member of the Delano Franklin Township Area Historical Society, and previously served on a local historic preservation committee, helping her get more familiar with the town’s history.
“I’ve heard all sorts of wonderful stories, but they’re not written down,” DeBeer said. “I have a science background. I’m not going to write the stories, but I love the stories . . . We need a lot of people to make this happen.”
One of the people who has shown interest in Yvonne Lazaretti.
“She, at Old-Fashioned Christmas, talked to Sarah Hellmich and said, ‘Can we do a map of the downtown area like they have in Jordan?’” DeBeer said. “I’ve seen it in various places. We go to little towns, that’s the first thing I do is see if they have a walking tour or signage that tells about the town.”
Theresa Jacobs, of the Delano Public Library, also came forward with the idea of hosting a historic walk in September.
DeBeer’s vision is to have a trail of sorts so “people can access signage at the different buildings and sites that have perhaps a little information, perhaps a photo, we’ll have to see . . . and with a QR code, so if you have a QR reader, you can go directly to that site, or have the URL on the sign, as well.”
The site DeBeer is referencing would have an archive of photos, stories, and information.
“If we have a site that is more accessible to more people, then maybe that information can come together,” DeBeer said. “That’s why we want it on a site and not just a printed book, so it can be constantly updated.”
As the group DeBeer is organizing comes together, everyone has something different to bring to the table.
“One fellow is working on maps and signs,” DeBeer said. “Some are working on finding as much information about buildings. We need the storytellers and people who can record those stories. We need funding to transcribe the stories and make the signs and that type of thing. I’m looking at what grants might be available.”
More are welcome to join the cause.
“This is open to anybody,” DeBeer said. “If anybody has other ideas, I’m not dictating how it should be done. We need to figure out how to record these stories and how to frame them.”