Archived Story

Kirkbride to receive a big hug

Published 11:32am Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Need a hug?

Preservationist groups think the Fergus Falls Kirkbride building needs one too, and they’re asking everyone interested in saving the historic building to come out at 11 a.m. Saturday for an event they’re calling “Hug the Kirkbride.”

Though they’re giving residents and media outlets advanced notice, Friends of the Kirkbride and other organizers are planning on making the event similar to a flash mob. They’re asking that people meet in nearby parking areas before the event and then wait until 11 a.m. sharp.

“We don’t want them going up to the building until 11, and then we want everyone to converge at once,” said Jean Roen, Friends of the Kirkbride member and one of the Hug the Kirkbride organizers.

Once everyone converges, the plan is for attendees, rain or shine, to link hands and form a giant circle around the Kirkbride.

“It will be like a group hug,” Roen said.

The event will be filmed and placed on YouTube and possibly other outlets. In fact, Roen explained, the “huggers” may end up being part of something beyond an effort to save the Kirkbride.

“This could possibly be a world record if we succeed,” she said.

Roen said if the hoped-for 1,200 people make it out to the Kirkbride, it could be a new record for most people to surround a building. The Journal attempted to check with the Guiness World Records organization to discern the status of such a record but did not hear from the group by press time.

The Friends of the Kirkbride expects attendance by people throughout the state, thanks in part to promotion and partnerships with the State Historic Preservation Office, the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and others who Roen referred to as the “friends of the Friends of the Kirkbride.”

After the group hug, which Roen said could take half an hour or perhaps a little while longer, the Friends of the Kirkbride will begin taking people on free mini-tours of the building on a first come, first served basis. The tours will continue throughout the day until everyone who wants a tour has gotten one.

If you don’t want a tour, all you have to do is show up for the hug – and register that you were there for the record books.

“We are going to have them put their name and address on a piece of paper so it’s verifiable,” said Roen.

The idea for Hug the Kirkbride was conceived about a month ago, after the success of holding Summerfest on the Regional Treatment Center grounds.

“We’ve had such an overwhelming response to it being held there,” said Roen.

As time continues to run short on the city’s demolition deadline for the building, the event will be another show of support for keeping the building standing. Roen said there has been increased interest recently in preserving the former state mental hospital, which has stood in Fergus Falls since the late 1800s.

As she’s been out putting up posters in town, “Everybody in every business I stopped in were overwhelming in support of this (event),” Roen said.

For more information, visit the Friends of the Kirkbride Facebook page.

  • Swedegirl

    This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

    • nanajean

      It is going to be fun! a real Blast, try it you might like it. Better than drinking!

  • KLJones

    That’s very rude, Jean, to assume someone is or is going to be drinking and state that. I can’t understand why anyone takes you seriously.

    • nanajean

      You don’t need to understand but “Sharon” does understand

  • jarneson

    Sorry that I can’t be there in person for the Kirkbride hug. Will be there in spirit. Certainly hope this important landmark will be saved.

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