Hug the Kirkbride [UPDATED]Published 11:13am Monday, July 16, 2012 Updated 11:13am Monday, July 16, 2012
Confused shouts mixed with enthusiastic cheering as Hug the Kirkbride participants stretched out hand-in-hand halfway around the Kirkbride building Saturday morning.
Despite the sometimes-chaotic situation, about 450 people came together in an ambitious show of support for keeping the former state mental hospital standing. Clipboards were passed around during the event to collect signatures for a potential world record.
Yvonne Sheppard, a Fergus Falls resident and former RTC nurse, brought her three grandchildren from Wolverton to participate in the event.
“The Kirkbride is something I care about, and I thought it would be a fun event for them to participate in,” she said.
“I rather hug the building than have a hug from a human, and this is pretty fun,” said Sheppard’s granddaughter, Molly Elmore.
“I just want to help beat the record,” explained her brother, Tommy Elmore.
Hug the Kirkbride was organized by the Friends of the Kirkbride group in an effort to show support for preserving Fergus Falls’ biggest landmark, which has stood in the city since the late 1800s. The city has entered the first stages of demolition planning for the building while a separate committee works on finding a marketer that can help sell the Kirkbride to a developer.
The efforts of the Friends group, as well as the recent SummerFest held on the Regional Treatment Center grounds, have raised awareness about the building in recent months. According the Friends of the Kirkbride, 5,500 people have gone on tours through the building, 4,000 have