My bet is that many of you were among the first million people who in the first week flocked to the grand opening, in August of 1992, of Bloomington’s newest landmark and our nation’s aspiring most popular tourist destination – the Mall of America. An article in the New York Times touted our brand new mega-mall as “the most grandiose mall in American history… a 78-acre full-sensory smorgasbord of consumerism” which was anticipated to “draw more customers a year by 1996 than Walt Disney World or the Grand Canyon.”
Maybe some of you heard Ray Charles sing “America” during the mall’s grand-opening gala. Maybe some of you met Larry Gatlin and his brothers as they opened their new 23,000 square-foot, country-western-music, line-dancing bar and restaurant. Maybe you had your picture taken with Snoopy in front of his big red water-dish fountain in the world’s largest indoor amusement park.
Or, maybe some of you had other things to do that month. I probed into our parish archives to see what else might have been happening in Bloomington during that auspicious month in 1992.
It turns out that at the same time Nativity of Mary was celebrating our parish festival, “August Fest ’92 – the Tradition Soars.” People from Bloomington gathered on our parish grounds for bingo (guaranteed $1200 in prizes), auction items (including a candlelit dinner for 8 donated by the parish staff and gift certificates to Pannekoeken House – which used to be right across from the parish where the bus stop currently is), games, rides, and a raffle (Mr. and Mrs. Mike Ryan won the $2000 grand prize).
Some of you might remember gathering that same month for a farewell reception for Fr. Jerry McMullen who was leaving the parish. In his thank-you note he described Nativity as “a thriving parish with great people and an able staff where I have loved and been loved.”
If you were a young person you might have skipped going to the Mall of America and opted instead to go to the Water Slide in Richfield for an outing with the youth group. If you were a senior you might have taken part in the meeting to begin a new senior group at Nativity. The parish also baptized 17 babies in August of 1992 including Bonnie Theis and Scott Caple.
So the Mall of America with its first slogan, “There’s a Place for Fun in your Life,” is celebrating its 25th birthday this month. We join them in thanking God for the life He pours into our city. May God continue to bless Bloomington – and may we at Nativity of Mary always strive to keep the gift of God at the heart and soul of it all.