Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Night to Remember at the State Capitol Building

Amy, Hannah, and I were invited on a wonderful adventure last night that we won’t forget for a very long time.

This year the three of us have started a tradition called Family Fun Night. One of us gets to pick the events of our Friday night and the other two have to participate. Last night Amy had the privilege of choosing our activities. We started out at the Como Park Zoo. Hannah screamed with delight as she went on the rides. We didn’t enjoy too much time there as the park closed at 6:00 p.m.

After Como Park we enjoyed eating at Cheeky Monkey Deli in St. Paul. We were seated right away, the food was tasty, and the service was excellent. After dinner we took a walk down Selby Avenue. We came upon Common Good Books, Garrison Keillor’s book store and spent a half hour there. We bought Hannah a book and I found a book of interviews of Jon Hassler that I plan to purchase in the future

The time was moving close to 8:00 p.m. Amy’s last idea was to drive over to the Capitol building and yell, “pass a budget.” We made the quick jaunt, found a parking spot and walked into the building.

The Legislature wasn’t meeting, but many people were still milling around the place. We were able to walk into the House chambers at the invitation of Ray Vandeever who was working there. We were just about to leave the building when a Security Guard came up to us and asked us if we wanted to go on a tour. It was Family Fun Night—of course, we would go on a tour!!

We didn’t know that this tour was going to take us to the very top of the Capitol Building. John Kaul, a lobbyist at the Capital, was making a documentary about the Capitol Building. Jon, the Security Guard, was taking him and Representative Kim Norton from Rochester on the tour. I became the grip for the tour—so I carried the grip’s equipment.

The tour was more than a tour of the building--it was a tour to the top of the Minnesota State Capitol Building.

I learned a lot about the beautiful structure. I found out that the architect was Cass Gilbert, the building was finished in 1905 after taking 12 years to finish, the cost was 4.5 million in 1905 dollars and 90 million in today’s dollars, and the design was patterned after the United States Capitol. The dome reaches 223 feet above ground. More information about the Capitol is on the Minnesota Historical Society Web Site.

We must have climbed at least three hundred stairs to get to the top of the building. Some of the stair cases were very narrow and required very careful attention. As the grip I carried equipment up all of the stairs.

The view from the top was beautiful. We enjoyed the statue of the four horses plated in gold. The horses represent the four natural elements of the world--air, earth, wind, and fire. The statue was taken down to be cleaned in 1995 and then hoisted up with a crane.

We could see for miles. Last night’s sky combined various hues of blue. We looked south over the River, we looked north past the three radio towers in Shoreview, we could just see the 3M logo on that building in St. Paul, and the downtown Minneapolis skyline.

Just seeing how much fun Jon the Security Guard was having made the evening very special. He was having a blast telling us different features about the Capitol building, sharing different features of the night sky, and telling us to go on the NASA web site so that we could know when to see the Space Shuttle, which just blasted off yesterday.

How many security guards would go up to a couple and their daughter and ask if they wanted to go to the top of the Capitol Building? We were the very fortunate recipients of his hospitality last night.

As we left the Capitol Building and walked down those steps we did yell out “Pass the Budget.”

We experienced a night to remember. As Hannah said as we were driving home, “This was the best Family Fun Night ever!

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