Perfect weather draws large crowd for Swiss Days opening
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Brice Lehman, concerning Thursday evening’s beautiful weather which greeted the opening ceremonies of Swiss Days 2014.
Lehman chided his wife, Jan, who works in the Chamber of Commerce office, for the blue skies and pleasant temperatures.
“She has been literally praying for nice weather for this,” said Lehman. “With perfect weather like this, who could be a bad mood? Things are off to a great start.”
Haley and Mitch Frank sat in the fresh grass on the south side of the Swiss Days tent and played with their daughter, Savannah. Like hundreds who attended the first night’s opening ceremonies, the Franks praised the family atmosphere cast by the Swiss Days activities.
“It’s a great family time,” said Frank. “It’s great for our town; everybody gets together. It brings a lot of business to our town.”
Madison Kloepper, a member of the Swiss Days court, said that she was overwhelmed when she stood on the stage during the opening ceremony and saw the crowd filling the tent and stretching beyond.
Kloepper said that as a recent graduate anticipating going to Ball State University this fall, she is more aware than ever of the beauty of Berne’s small town atmosphere and community.
“I love the way everyone gets together from all parts of the area, and even from around the country,” Kloepper said. “It’s wonderful the way everyone gets together, family, friends and people we don’t know. It’s nice getting to know other people.
“I love it, I love the small town. I love the way everyone turns out for this. I couldn’t believe the crowd that was there for the opening,” continued Kloepper. “It was fun seeing all of the faces out there. I love this community.”
Former Berne High School and Indiana University basketball star Erv Inniger is present at Swiss Days because of a class reunion. Inniger, who has lived in Fargo, North Dakota for many years, said that he can’t describe the feeling that comes over him when he returns to the community he grew up in and starred on one of the high schools’ greatest basketball teams of all-time.
“I drive past houses and I remember who used to live there,” said Inniger. “Every direction I look, there are memories. I will never forget what this town means to me and the great memories from here during my high school days.”
As always, the air was permeated with the aroma of fair foods, much of which was contributed from fund-raising efforts by local groups. People who hadn’t seen each other in months stood on Main Street and visited.
Community activist, Gretchen Lehman, who is in charge of the apple dumpling stand this year, said that she couldn’t imagine how the event could have gotten off to a better start.
“It’s that Swiss connection,” said Lehman. “We are all drawn together by our heritage. We can feel that. I love the good food. I’ve already had chicken wings and German food.”
Rev. Gareth Wiederkehr, a spiritual statesman of the community who served for many years on the pastoral staff at First Missionary, seemingly summed up the spiritual and heritage bond of the community.
Wiederkehr referred to the virtues inscribed on the Clock Tower: commitment, integrity, hope, vision, hard work, heritage, faith and courage.
“When people come into town and look at the clock, they read those virtues,” said Wiederkehr. “We want our town to be known by those virtues. Our forefathers brought those here from Switzerland and they are still with us. It is our privilege and responsibility to keep those virtues alive from generation to generation.
“Those virtues came to this area in 1852 and they are still here,” added Wiederkehr.
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