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Guest Column: Why I Love Albert Lea

Guest Column by Angie Hanson

Angie Hanson lives in Albert Lea with her son, Clayton. She teaches special education in the Southland School District and is on the school board for Albert Lea Area Schools. She is active in the Freeborn County DFL Party and Save Our Hospital.

I love Albert Lea. It is a wonderful place to raise a family. We have strong traditions and a dedicated community. Walking around the lake with all the trees in bloom, I was reminded of just how beautiful Albert Lea is.

I have always loved summers in Albert Lea the most. Growing up on the south side, my summers were spent riding my bike to the pool every day with my best friend with an Esprit bag slung over my shoulder. My family had many campouts at Myre-Big Island State Park. We used to catch fireflies and put them into juice jugs to make night lights. I have walked and rode my bike around the lake and the bike trail more times than I can count. Each summer, I still wait in anticipation for the Freeborn County Fair. The fair has always felt like the last big hurrah of summer. As a mother, I get to do all the things with my son that I enjoyed growing up, as well discover new things Albert Lea has to offer.

I feel a strong sense of pride in our community and our traditions. Every year by July 1, blankets and chairs fill the boulevards saving favorite parade spots. We take parade-watching seriously in Albert Lea. Albert Lea has the best Fourth of July fireworks around. Many have tried, but nobody can convince me otherwise. Guess that’s where my community pride comes in.

My first experience with the Eddie Cochran car cruise was just as memorable as my son’s. I was leaving Edgewater Park with my friend in my dad’s Bronco II wondering why there was so much traffic. I ended up somewhere among the old-time cars. It took me a bit to realize I was in the middle of the car cruise. My son’s first time watching the cruise, long after it ended, we remained sitting on the curb on Bridge Avenue. He loved watching the traffic go by, thinking it was all a big parade that never ended.

I have rarely missed the Big Island Rendezvous. As a child, we camped overnight at the state park. Now my son and I take the bus from the fairgrounds every year.   

My son just graduated from my alma mater, Halverson Elementary School. He had great teachers, learned a lot and made good friends. I hope he will keep his Halverson friends into adulthood, just as I did mine.   

Albert Lea wouldn’t be what it is without a dedicated community that works together. They keep our traditions alive while ensuring opportunities for enriching family experiences and lasting memories. If that weren’t enough, members of our community continue to work hard to make Albert Lea even better. We now can enjoy music at Thursdays on Fountain, and children can cool off and have fun at the splash pad. The biggest hit of last summer for our family was Chapel Con.

I want to express my gratitude to everyone who makes Albert Lea such a wonderful place to raise a family, keeps our traditions alive and helps instill a sense of pride in our community. For those of you who think Albert Lea can or should be even better, I challenge you to get involved and do just that. Make Albert Lea even better!