Well, blow me down (almost) - fundraiser worked

  • Article by: JAMES WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 10, 2008 - 11:19 PM

The mayor came down from the roof after surviving winds and cold. He raised nearly $40,000 for a teen center.

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Wyoming mayor Sheldon Anderson said goodbye to his son Alex, 2, and wife Olga, right, from atop the town's city hall, where he has camped out since Saturday, Feb. 2, hoping to raise $35,000 in donations for the nearby Forest Lake Teen Center.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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After enduring wind, cold and living in a tent that kept wanting to fly off the rooftop, Wyoming Mayor Sheldon Anderson came down Sunday from his odd camping perch, thanks to a generous Woodbury man and his $6,000 check.

Since Feb. 2, Anderson had been camping on the roof of the Wyoming Municipal Building to garner attention and raise money to keep the budget-challenged Forest Lake Teen Center open.

His goal was to raise $35,000 -- about the bare minimum to keep the center viable as a place where area kids, grades 7 to 9, could drop in and stay out of trouble.

The mayor knew it was going to be cold over the weekend. Forecasts called for temperatures below zero. But he said he wasn't quite expecting to be assaulted by the weather, especially Saturday night.

"What a night, let me tell you," said Anderson, serving his second term as Wyoming's mayor. "It was cold. Cold and windy. My biggest fear was that the tent was going to come down around me."

Anderson was holed up in a donated tent and was trying to keep warm with donated propane heaters. "But the pilot lights on the heaters kept going out," he said. "The wind kept blowing them out."

The wind also seemed to want to keep ripping the tent from its rooftop moorings. Workers had fastened tent supports into a wooden deck under the tent. Anderson said he worried most of the night about doing a Dorothy-leaves-Kansas impression.

"The tent's 10-by-10," he said. "But when the wind was blowing, it was about 3-by-3."

Rescue came about 9 a.m. Sunday. The Woodbury donor, who Anderson said does not want to be identified, came by the Wyoming City Hall with his daughter and his checkbook. The girl put the $6,000 check into the empty green 5-gallon bucket Anderson kept attached to a rope alongside the building.

In all, the mayor's weeklong winter adventure raised more than the $35,000 needed to keep the teen center open another year. "All of this should put us closer to $40,000," Anderson said. "Some other boards are going to meet later."

In all, it was a worthwhile undertaking, Anderson said, albeit a bit more scary and frigid than he expected.

"It will be good to get home to my family," he said.

James Walsh • 651-298-1541

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