Community singing in Minneapolis

This 1943 newspaper photo from the Minneapolis Tribune newspaper tells the story. Courtesy the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Other than sports fans giving voice to the Star Spangled Banner before games, some of the state’s biggest community singing gatherings are a part of history when throngs came together to sing from the 1920s to the 1950s.

That’s when the Minneapolis Park Board and the Minneapolis Tribune sponsored competitions among the parks for who could attract the biggest crowd, sing the loudest and generally behave themselves. That last quality was judged under the heading of deportment.  Winners received banners and trophies as shown above.

In my newest Minnesota Sounds and Voices report on Friday’s All Things Considered, we’ll hear from some contemporary community singing organizers, we’ll also hear from Harry Anderson. He’s the 95-year-old son of the man (Harry Anderson, Sr.) who from 1920 to 1946, led the summertime community sings every weeknight for six weeks!

The Minnesota Community Sings group has been working for years to rekindle the event, and this year’s season begins Saturday at Powderhorn Park in Minneapolis at 5:30 p. m.   It’ll be in the park building gym in case of rain.

The roots of community singing in Minnesota go back to World War I when the federal government wanted to rally support for entering an unpopular conflict against Germany.  Those first singing events were led by a woman, Lucille Holliday, who then turned over conducting duties to Anderson an immigrant from Great Britain.