It’s a joy to have families, classmates return to to the comfort of the greater Pelican area

Reunions are a summer-long happening  in Pelican Rapids.  

The lifelong draw of the Pelican Rapids area is evident all summer long, with generations of seasonal visitors, Pelican high school classes and families gathering for various events in the beautiful Pelican area. The multi-generational attraction is evident in this photo, with 1979 graduate Pamela Hovland and mother Doris Hovland pictured. Both enjoyed reliving their connection to Pelican at the July 19 “Historic Downtown Pelican Rapids” walking tour, hosted by Chris Schuelke, Otter Tail County Historical Society.

Of course, there are the organized high school class reunions that occur every summer. But the informal gatherings of classmates, combined with family reunions, reflect the draw that Pelican Rapids has to those who left–but still have a deep fondness for their hometown and the surrounding lakes area.

There were substantial gatherings, around the time of Pelican Fest, of 1979, 1989, 1999 and 2009 graduates.  Some were in the parade. We saw many of them at the Rotary Turkey Barbecue. And a bunch were whooping it up on the patio of Taqueria Escobar. 

Meanwhile, the Class of 1964 converged on the Pelican VFW just a couple weeks ago. Sadly, the 1964 class lost about a third of their mates.  

Looking ahead, the  Class of 1969 reunion is set for August 24 at Muddy Moose. 

For a transplant and a recovering city boy like me, it has always been a joy to meet some of the returning Pelican graduates. 

For example, it has been delightful to get acquainted with Class of 1979 grad Pamela Hovland, who returned for much of the summer from her home in Connecticut.  

She’s taken a special interest in her old hometown; attending the street planning meeting last week and also the tour of historic downtown Friday night. Hovland studied graphic design at Bemidji State University and later at Yale University. She is a senior critic in design at Yale, and is principal designer at Pamela Hovland Design LIL. 

With her background, the long-range street, sidewalk and bike path planning, as well as the proposal to remove the dam, has been especially interesting for her.

Many will recall her late father, Berton Hovland, a former Otter Tail County Commissioner who died in 2015, and Pamela’s mother Doris.    

Pamela weaved together a few thoughts, following the 1979 class event, which we print here:

“…Pelican’s Class of 1979 gathered to celebrate our fortieth reunion and half a century — or longer in some cases — of friendship. 

It was a quintessential Minnesota summer evening animated by a group of 70 people (45 classmates plus a handful of brave spouses) shaking hands or hugging, sharing updates, laughing and retelling myriad stories from the 1970s. 

First and foremost, the group consisted of excellent men and women who travelled near and far because they value their life-long friends. 

The reunion attendees may also be parents, step-parents and grandparents, aunts or uncles — the most important jobs of all. 

In addition, they are farmers, at least two pre-school teachers and one retired university professor, a receptionist, a county auditor/treasurer, county recorder and county commissioner, a psychic medium, at least two accomplished vocalists, a youth minister, a two-time Paralympian and national record holder, an electrician, a civil engineer, at least two sales account executives, a nurse and a caregiver, an IT consultant, a handful of entrepreneurs and small business owners (a printing company, a welding shop, a cleaning service, a micro brewery), a graduate of Harvard and another from Yale, a social worker, a construction company owner, a construction estimator and an employee in the heavy equipment parts business, a graphic designer, a financial services executive, a fast food employee, a dental hygienist, a few MBAs, a pilot, a retired police detective and a retired army sergeant, and much more.

Clearly, our chosen paths are diverse. The spirit of our friendships, however, honors those differences as well as our similarities and we now look forward to our next reunion.”