Blaine resident’s memorabilia featured at Minneapolis Aquatennial

The Hennepin History Museum’s annual Minneapolis Aquatennial display will feature the personal collection of Blaine resident Ken Hafften.

Ken Hafften’s Aquatennial memorabilia will be on display at the Hennepin History Museum through July 20. Photo submitted
Ken Hafften’s Aquatennial memorabilia will be on display at the Hennepin History Museum through July 20. Photo submitted

The exhibit will include a full collection of skipper pins, commodore medals, pictorials, ambassador uniform items, Aquatennial memorabilia, recognitions including the Ken Walstad Award and festival scrapbooks.

The exhibition, “Historic Aquatennial: A Look at the Aquatennial collections of Ken Hafften” opens Friday, July 12, 1 p.m., and runs through July 20. Admission is free on the opening day. Thereafter regular admission fees apply.

With the Aquatennial 75th anniversary just around the corner in 2014, Hafften started cataloguing his extensive collection of documents, keepsakes and photographs that he saved during his long involvement as a volunteer of the summertime festival.

His involvement started in 1972 shortly after graduating from the University of Minnesota. Hafften was recruited by a co-worker to volunteer at the Grande Day and Torchlight parades. Now more than 40 years later he continues to be an active volunteer in other capacities.

Over the years, Hafften has served in many volunteer roles with the organization from parade route committee member to the general festival chairperson in 1991 and the first Aquatennial captain in 1995.

For more than five of those years he traveled to other festivals in the region as one of the official festival ambassadors escorting the Queen of the Lakes and Princesses.

Hafften estimates that over the years he and his wife Eileen have made more than 500 appearances as Aquatennial ambassadors when including the four additional years his wife Eileen also served as volunteer ambassador and event planner as an Aquatennial vice commodore. Some clothing items from those uniforms will be on display at the museum. Souvenirs and photos from other community festivals will also be on exhibit in the scrapbooks.

For many years the couple used their work vacation time to help execute the many events planned year round with other key volunteers and staff for the “10 Best Days of Summer”.

Hafften’s interest in history has led him to expand his Aquatennial memorabilia collection through local antique shops and on line purchases. He is currently assisting in compiling a comprehensive volunteer contact list to reunite workers and volunteers from the years prior to 2002 when the rights to the festival were purchased by the Downtown Council. This significant change in the structure of the Aquatennial resulted with the Ambassador Alumni Organization operating as a separately organized entity.

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