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Former 'kings' raising money for new float

These are some of the former Pepper Fest kings who formed a non-profit organization last summer. They are holding an event in February to raise funds for a new Pepper Fest float. This group includes, front, current King Lucas Prause; first row from left, past kings Jon Coty, Kyle O'Connell (standing in for his dad, Dan O'Connell), Mike Solberg, Becky Lyksett (long time Pepper Fest court organizer), Dave Prissel, Dan Ortner and Leigh Halvorsen; back, Bryan Henningsen, Ed Nelson, Scott Sippel, Shawn Pettee...

Former North Hudson Pepper Fest kings have scheduled an event Saturday, Feb. 25, to raise funds to replace the North Hudson Pepper fest float. The group recently formed a non-profit organization named The Club of Kings.

The men have organized a Casino Night from 7 to 11 p.m. on Feb. 25 at the St. Croix National Golf Course banquet hall. The fundraiser will include a dinner "fit for a king," blackjack, craps, Texas Hold 'em all to be played with Pepper Money. The evening will also include raffles and games throughout the night as well as a DJ for entertainment. Tickets are $75 per couple and are available from any Pepper Fest king or the Village Inn in North Hudson.

"All of you have seen the North Hudson Pepper Fest float rocking down the numerous parade routes within the community with the music cranking and the royalty dancing and showing the Hudson community pride and all a good time," said former king Don Bouzard. "It is sad that we must say, the float itself is near its end. It is well over 30 years old and, although it may look good on the outside, it is rusting away and breaking down mechanically beyond repair."

The float accompanies the Pepper Fest Royalty to around 40 events per year, and is recognizable at every community parade in western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota.

"If you would ask any Pepper Fest king, of which the first was appointed in 1956, about their year as royalty, they all say it was one of the most fun years of their life," Bouzard said. "And the float was a big part of that fun."

At the Pepper Fest last August, many of the past kings met in the park and decided to create a local non-profit organization that would give back to the community and assist community organizations in the St. Croix Valley, including the Pepper Fest itself. After one meeting, a few phone calls and e-mails, over 20 past kings joined the club, even one who lives in Florida now.

"We as The Club of Kings would ask that any business to donate prizes or certificates from your business or as an individual purchase a ticket to the event to help refurbish this wonderful part of our Pepper Fest tradition," Bouzard said. "One hundred percent of the profits will go back to the community. We will be mailing letters to local businesses requesting sponsorships or raffle prizes."

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