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Was bride jilted? River cleaners speculate on rare find

Mike Thompson (left) and Steve Schroeder hold up a wedding dress they and Diane Odeen (not pictured) found in the Kinni near Liberty Road. Other members of their cleaning group included Ed Vlack, Jeannie and Mark Westpetal, Lisa Thompson, Mark Kahlow, Tom and Bonnie Caroll, and Brooke, Henry and Charles Dolan.

 Steve Schroeder, Mike Thompson and Diane Odeen were in for quite a surprise when they pulled what they thought was a piece of trash from a beaver dam on the Kinnickinnic River Saturday, April 26. It turned out to be a wedding dress, still in its bag.

“It was hanging on its original hanger undamaged,” Schroeder said. “You can only guess how in the world it got there. We feel that somebody got jilted and somebody took that package and heaved it.”

When they first saw the dress, Schroeder said it just looked like a plastic bag with some white cloth in it, stuck in a beaver dam near the Liberty Road Bridge on the Kinnickinnic River. Thompson crawled out onto the dam to help free the dress. Schroeder helped pull it from the water. But it wasn't until they got it on land and opened the bag that they realized it wasn't just a bunch of cloth.

“It wasn’t beat up,” Schroeder said. “It was soaked. It had been in the river for a while, but it was not ripped, or eaten by fish or anything like that.”

Schroeder’s group was part of a record breaking number of volunteers at this year’s Kinni River Cleanup, organized by the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust (KRLT) this year. KRLT Executive Director Dave Fodroczi said about 140 volunteers helped clean the river this year. They collected about two dumpsters worth of trash.

Many groups found unusual items, from tires to broken pool cues but Fodroczi said the wedding dress was the most unusual item found this year.

“I think it was the biggest surprise of the year,” Schroeder said. “This was really unique because you never find new things. You find junk or discarded things or trash of all sorts, but this was very unique.”

Odeen, who is a City Council member, is taking care of the dress for now, while the group decides what to do with it. 

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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