Costumes, humor punctuate informative annual report
By Gabby Landsverk, Sun Sailor Newspapers
Hopkins Mayor Molly Cummings, dressed in tie-dye with a flower in her hair, used words like “groovy” and “rad” to describe the best things the city had to offer to a crowded auditorium at Hopkins Center for the Arts.
No, this isn’t the latest whimsical offering from Stages Theatre Company. The throwback Thursday, Jan. 25 performance was a new spin on the annual State of the City address, using a classic game-show format to bring residents the latest highlights in Hopkins with a light-hearted and laughter-filled presentation.
Councilmembers Katy Campbell and Kristi Halverson, as well as Cummings in her far-out flower child outfit, were introduced as contestants on “The Hopkins Dating Game,” sharing their best local lore for a chance to impress the ‘eligible bachelor’ interested in moving to Hopkins.
Councilmember Jason Gadd, played the role of a soon-to-be resident, asking the ‘contestants’ about their favorite parts of the city.
Gadd drew laughs from the audience in a surprise ending to the game, opting for his real-life wife as the game show winner and bringing her onstage for an impromptu round of applause.
City Manager Mike Mornson hosted the proceedings, taking friendly jabs at the contestants, as well as a few well-known guests such as Hopkins School Superintendent John Schultz.
Other audience members of note included Hennepin County Board Jan Callison, as well as many members of the Hopkins city staff who were credited for their hard work in the previous year.
The event was sponsored by Twin West Chamber of Commerce and the Hopkins Business and Civic Association.
Association President Amy Saldanha said the event captures the unique energy and friendliness of Hopkins
“It’s more like a pep rally than a state of the city,” she said. “You’ll definitely leave excited and proud to be a part of Hopkins.”
The jokes and banter were threaded with interesting trivia and key facts about the city’s big projects for the coming year: the completion of the Moline, Highway 169 construction, the Eighth Avenue Artery and the upcoming improvements to Burnes Park and Maetzold Field.
The Southwest Light Rail was an especially prominent feature in the presentation, including a short video from the Metropolitan Council highlight the three stations to be built in Hopkins.
Cummings humorously alluded to the long process of turned the rail line from a concept to reality, which Gadd set up with a question about public transit.
“There sure is, if you’re patient,” she said, to chuckles from the audience. “It will be ready in just five short years.”
The presentation briefly took a more somber tone, as Cummings requested that those gathered take a moment of silence in honor of Jerre Miller, former Hopkins mayor and longtime resident who died Jan. 23 at age 84.
Miller was born and raised in Hopkins, and began his service to the city in 1966 as a member of the planning commission. He was later elected to the city council and served as mayor of the city from 1975 to 1981.
“Without his presence, we’ll never truly sparkle the same way again here in Hopkins,” Cummings said.
The event also marked the debut of a new Hopkins engagement campaign, Cultivate Hopkins, to encourage resident input on the city’s comprehensive plan.
“We want to make the city be what you want, and we’re working very hard to get public input,” Cummings said, encouraging residents to get involved and give their opinion, either online or at city hall.
The community event website, ThinkHopkins.com, also presented a new promotional video of Hopkins hot spots, from the restaurants to the parks to the people.
Prior to the event, guests packed the lobby of the center to socialize, celebrate and enjoy all the city had to offer in the Taste of Hopkins event, featuring samples from 20 area restaurants and businesses from LTD Brewing and Tuttle’s to Driskill’s Grocery and the Hopkins Farmers Market.
“There’s so much to love about Hopkins,” Councilmember Halverson said. While the dialogue may have been scripted, the sentiment certainly was not.
“We are so proud of our city,” Cumming added, “We had a really busy 2016 and 2017 looks like it will be even busier.”
After the flashback, residents were ushered back out into 21st century Hopkins, with a long list of what to look forward to in the year ahead.
Contact Gabby Landsverk at [email protected]