Float highlights Hamburg church history

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Emanuel Lutheran Hamburg’s float in the recent Stiftungsfest parade revived a 30-year-old model, that is now on display in the church narthex. (Adam Gruenewald/The Times)

by Adam Gruenewald
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One of the more noticeable floats during the Stiftungsfest parade last Sunday was certainly the Emanuel Lutheran Hamburg float.
In addition to kids passing out magnets, ice pops and flyers promoting the church and school, the float itself harkened back to its history.
The model of the former church building and school was certainly the centerpiece of the float, as it was first created for Hamburg’s 125th anniversary in the early 1980’s and has since been in storage.
Fifth-generation church member Linda Peterson explained her husband Gust Peterson, who passed away in 2010, was the chairman of the six-member Board of Evangelism who worked on the float.
“Since it was a historic-type parade they thought it would be neat to do a historic-type float,” she said. “That’s why they built this church and school that was represented here.”
Members of the board then spent multiple weekends in the church garage working on the float using scale blueprint plans by Elmer Panning, who has since passed away.
“The church would not have looked that good without Elmer’s blueprints,” she said. “That man was an exceptional artist.”
The model of the church was constructed out of plywood grooved to make it look like clapboard and wood shingles, according to Peterson, who was surprised about the current condition on the model.
“I was surprised that it survived because it was in storage for 30 years,” said Peterson. “It was just stored in the grainary.”
Church records highlight that members decided to construct the 60- by 36-feet building on March 22, 1869.
“The new church was one of the most beautiful and largest edifices in the entire community and served the congregation well as a house of worship for almost 30 years,” according to records. “It became to many a portal of heaven.”
On Oct. 17, 1896 the congregation decided to construct its current building in 1899, and the old building and its aging belltower, where the cemetery is now, was taken down.
Now out of storage, the model has been relocated to the church narthex.
Pastor Don Andrix said he was pleased with Emanuel Lutheran’s presence at the parade.
“We had a really positive response to what we were offering not only the magnets with the picture of our school, but the frozen pops,” he said. “It was really great. Lots of wonderful people to see through the parade and it was great to be appreciated and our float was well received I thought.”
The model was certainly a hit as well.
“It was just a wonderful experience to see how well our members decorated the float and used this model that I forgot about for a long time,” he said.
For more information on Emanuel Lutheran Church and School, visit www.elchamburg.org.

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