Wedding bells to ring: River Falls proved to be their fairytale settingOnce upon a time, in a city over the Kinni, a college hockey player and an aspiring pharmacist met and fell in love.
By: Ashley Hall, News Intern , River Falls Journal
Once upon a time, in a city over the Kinni, a college hockey player and an aspiring pharmacist met and fell in love.
Set years ago in 2007 in River Falls, Jimmy Jensen and Ashley Warren started their fairytale romance.
Now they’ve come back to remember the memories that were created before they left.
“Our memories were of our friends here and hanging out in the town,” said Jensen. “When we mention River Falls to our friends they say, ‘Remember that time…’” “We also think of River Falls as a place that we feel at home,” Warren said. “River Falls is definitely a place that we cherish.
“We even have talked about living here because you can’t beat Main Street within walking distance.”
Jensen has also come back to attend UW-River Falls this fall so he can complete his journalism degree.
Jensen met with Sandy Ellis, the journalism department chair at UWRF, in April 2012 about returning to earn his degree.
“I was impressed with him because he said to me ‘I wanna finish this and I wanna do well,’ because he knows what he wants to do,” Ellis said.
Warren is also returning to help out mentor and longtime friend, Leah Gavin.
“I can’t wait for her to get her license,” said Gavin, owner and pharmacist at Freeman Drug, 104 S. Main St.
If the couple were to move to River Falls, they would want to have land for horses, the sunrise in the morning, Jensen maybe coaching hockey at UWRF and Warren working at Freeman Drug.
Jensen was a hockey fanatic and journalism major.
Warren was an animal science major but had a passion for working at Freeman Drug. She later switched her college major because of the on-the-job experience at Freeman’s.
“This town is so important to us because we have so many ties to here,” Warren said. “We used to go to open skating on Sunday’s, and Jimmy would teach me how to skate at the (Hunt) arena, and we were always walking around town and going to Glen Park to walk my dog.”
Jensen was a transfer student at UWRF. He wanted to be closer to home and to have fun playing hockey.
With River Falls being so conveniently close to his home in White Bear Lake, Minn., his family and friends were able to visit and watch him play when there were games at Hunt Arena.
Jensen played with the men’s Falcons hockey team for two years.
Before the start of the semester in September 2007, Jensen ventured off in his sweatpants, by himself, in the hopes of making friends with the residents of River Falls and maybe even some students from the university.
“I didn’t know anyone so I decided to explore the town of River Falls,” Jensen said.
He went to a movie downtown at the Falls Theatre, then started to bar hop.
Jensen ended up at The Library, now called Boomer’s Bar.
There he sat, drink in hand, when suddenly a group of college women came through the door.
In that group, Jenson said a young “blonde vixen” emerged.
Jensen was at awe and at a loss of words.
“I went up to her and said, ‘Hi, I’m new in town, I haven’t made any new friends yet. You look like someone I would want to be friends with. Could I buy you a drink sometime?’” Jensen said.
Warren was flattered. She told Jensen that she would, but she had a boyfriend. Afterward they both went their separate ways.
At the start of school that year, Jensen became caught up in hockey at UWRF.
“I loved every minute of it,” he said. “I felt like a college celebrity.”
His skills on the ice didn’t exactly carry over into the classroom.
Jensen said he was more focused on hockey than anything else. His former journalism professor agreed.
“He wasn’t like many guys here,” Ellis said. “He was all about hockey and fun.”
Along with hockey, Jensen also worked at the Falls Theatre.
Warren on the other hand was trying to decide on her real passion. She switched her major because of the things she learned while working at Freeman Drug.
“She became part of our family here,” said Gavin of Warren. “She is such a bubbly and great gal.”
With their lives both in full swing, it was six months before Jensen and Warren met again.
On New Year’s Eve 2007, Jensen was bartending at a bar called Hogs Breath in St. Paul. In walked Warren and her group of partygoers.
They recognized each other but did not say much since Warren was with her boyfriend.
That was the end of that.
But not quite. Warren’s relationship soon ended. She contacted Jensen.
“It took him two weeks to respond to me,” Warren said. “I thought I did something wrong because he took forever to say anything.”
Jensen finally responded. He took Warren to Pier Five Hundred in Hudson for their first date.
Sparks erupted after their first kiss on the Hudson pier and in between the lilacs that Jensen would bring Warren in Heineken bottles. It was the start of a long-lasting romance.
Warren graduated from UWRF in May 2008. She was accepted at the University of Minnesota-Duluth in the pharmacy program.
Jensen left UWRF in April 2008. Without finishing his degree, he started playing hockey in Texas for the Minnesota Wild’s farm team.
Four years later, the return to River Falls is in full swing.
“We are coming back because we took our engagement photos here, the local restaurants (on Main) and you can’t beat the $3 movies,” Warren said. “We love the feel of the small town. We know so many people here, and we have so many memories.”
Jensen is enrolling again for classes at UWRF. Warren is visiting and hoping to work or help out at Freeman Drug.
“Leah works 40 hours a week, and I would like to give her a break once and a while. She works so hard,” Warren said. “I also work at the free clinic (located at the River Falls Medical Clinic).”
The couple is excited to be back in River Falls to relive memories that they had when they were here as a younger couple.
“It’s like we never left,” Warren said. “Everyone is so welcoming.”
Jensen and Warren are to be married Sept. 22 in Stillwater, Minn.
“None of this would of happened if it wasn’t for meeting in River Falls,” Jensen said.
The couple does not know where they want to live after they get married, but at the end of those discussions, they always circle back to the Midwest, particularly River Falls.