Days Gone ByA few weeks ago, the death of Mary (Andrle) Kusilek on Oct. 23, 2008, was printed in the River Falls Journal. Some may not have known that back in 1948, when still Mary Andrle, she was chosen as the first “Fire Queen” in River Falls.
By: Pat Hunter, Archivist, River Falls Journal
A few weeks ago, the death of Mary (Andrle) Kusilek on Oct. 23, 2008, was printed in the River Falls Journal.
Some may not have known that back in 1948, when still Mary Andrle, she was chosen as the first “Fire Queen” in River Falls.
Fire Queens were chosen to represent River Falls at the St. Paul Winter Carnival for three days. The Booster Club and Business and Professional Women’s Club sponsored the festivities with the coronation ball held at the Moose Hall. They provided a formal gown and a snowsuit for the selected queen to wear while attending the Winter Carnival.
Rules for candidates were: Must be over 17 and under 27, single, represent the River Falls community, required to attend the Winter Carnival, all expenses paid, for three days during February.
St. Paulites, Inc., assured readers the girls were never left without proper chaperones, and kept strictly under supervision at all times.
Vulcan, Fire King of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, was here to crown the queen, and along with his minions, entertained the crowd of over 550 who attended the ball.
There were 14 candidates sponsored by local businesses: Dorothy Halvorson, Beverly Jenson, Betty Johnson, Arlene Obermueller, Arnell Johnson, Bonnie Carter, Marguerite Baird, Rosemary Lofgren, Delores Fisher, Ruth Nelson, June Anderson, Grace McAleavy, Evelyn Boles and Andrle, who was eventually chosen Fire Queen.
Baird and Jenson were selected as attendants.
Queen contestants met with judges at the Hotel Gladstone, where a light luncheon was served. The girls were to appear in formal dress, ready for the ball. Sponsors were responsible for transportation of their contestant to the hotel, from the hotel to the Moose Hall, and from the Moose Hall to the young lady’s home after the ball.
Fire Queen Andrle reported in the weeks afterward that she thoroughly enjoyed the experience of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, had a wonderful time, was treated royally while in St. Paul, and is now back at her desk at the River Falls Clinic.