Boy Scouts celebrate centennial with a gift to the city of Hudson
In the end, Hudson Mayor Dean Knudson said he was honored to accept the gift of a six-foot, bronze statue from the Boy Scouts of America.
"When this was proposed, we didn't take it lightly," Knudson told a crowd of about 400 people who attended a dedication of the R. Tait McKenzie "Ideal Scout" statue Sunday afternoon.
"The request to erect the monument to the Scouts in Lakefront Park was considered very carefully - and I'm very proud of the result," the mayor added. "...You should be very proud of your organization and its accomplishment."
There was some opposition last April when the Northern Star Council of the Boys Scouts offered to give the statue to the city in celebration of Scouting's 100th anniversary.
Some were concerned about erecting a monument to a private organization and others didn't like the Boy Scouts' policy of not accepting gay leaders.
But the City Council voted 5-1 in May to accept the statue and the audience of Scouts, former Scouts, Scout leaders, parents and dignitaries at Sunday's dedication were well pleased with it.
The gift led to a larger park improvement project funded mostly through donations. And a significant amount of the work was done by volunteers, including Eagle Scout candidate Matthew Yerry who put in the landscape plantings around the statue.
Hudson landscape architect Marc Putman helped design the project, which included taking down a no-longer-needed earthen berm and installing a viewing plaza, benches, lighting and plantings.
Many businesses donated time and materials to the project.
Knudson said the statue is a reflection of Hudson's "can-do" attitude. He related how a group of Hudson citizens was formed in 1910 -- the same year the Boy Scouts of America started -- to raise money to build the first bridge across the St. Croix River at Hudson.
The McKenzie Scout statue stands at the entrance to the dike road that served that early bridge.
Steven Wilcox, an adult Boy Scout leader for 34 years, served as master of ceremonies for Sunday's program.
Other speakers included John Andrews, CEO of the Northern Star Council of Boy Scouts; Kitty Rhoades, 30th District State Assembly representative; Charles Huntley, president of Boys Camp of Hudson Inc. (the local Scout organization); Steven Weekes, a member of the National Executive of the Boy Scouts of America; and Hugh H. Gwin, secretary/treasurer of Boys Camp of Hudson.
"Scouting is part of history for Hudson," said Huntley. He related how in the summer of 1910 a group of 86 boys and their leaders from St. Paul camped two miles south of Hudson to try out a new program called Boy Scouts.
Rhoades, a former Scout den mother, said the Boy Scouts are a good influence in a day when many are concerned that society is losing its moral compass.
"It is so rewarding to be here today with all of you from families of generations who have made commitments to the values of our culture that make us who we are and what we are," Rhoades said.
She complimented the Scout families for showing "the next generation" that "standing up for what is right is always right."