Community notebook: Holidazzle contest

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November 9, 2009 // UPDATED 9:58 am - November 9, 2009
By: Amanda Kushner
Amanda Kushner
Nicollet Mall

Holidazzle Parade launches storybook character contest

Organizers of this year’s Target Holidazzle Parade are inviting children to vote for their favorite storybook character in a new online contest.

“Our characters bring to life the Target Holidazzle Parade every year, so we thought they would be the perfect representatives to commence the 2009 Target Holidazzle season,” said Leah Wong of the Downtown Council, in a prepared statement. “Parade goers can look forward to another great line up, and, new this year, the Favorite Character Competition.”

Kids of all ages who are interested are encouraged to submit who their favorite character is and why in 50 words or less on the Target Holidazzle Facebook page or e-mail entries to One winner will be featured with their family in the parade. A runner-up and second place finisher will receive Hot Seats to watch the parade.

The contest runs through Dec. 6. Winners will be notified Dec. 11.

The 18th season of the parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 27 and will continue until Dec. 20, every Thursday through Sunday on Nicollet Mall between 12th and 4th streets.


Elliot Park

Couple returns to thank HCMC staff

Elizabeth and Al Abraham returned to Hennepin County Medical Center on Oct. 27 to thank the emergency staff who saved them two years ago.

The couple was driving home from a family reunion in Nebraska on Highway 169 and had just passed a sign that said 40 miles to Minneapolis when an 18-wheeler truck smashed into them, Elizabeth Abraham said.

The collision sent the Abraham’s car careening across the median and into oncoming traffic during morning rush hour.

Al Abraham was airlifted to HCMC. He had brain trauma, fractured vertebrae, hematomas, extensive internal injuries and partially paralyzed his left shoulder and right leg. Elizabeth Abraham had multiple fractures and a mild brain injury. Al Abraham was at HCMC for a month before he moved to a transition hospital and then rehabilitation, she said. He’s on his way to 100 percent recovery.

The couple said they felt blessed to have had such a quick response to the horrific accident.

“It was the perfect storm in reverse. The outcome was really good instead of really really bad,” she said.

She said her husband could have been paralyzed or had permanent brain damage, but said HCMC staff did everything right.

In a former career Elizabeth Abraham worked in a hospital. She said staff often don’t hear back from their patients.

“I think I wanted them to know it was worth all the time and effort, and all the extra hard work that they do and how competent they were to get Al started down on the right leg, so he could have an opportunity to recover,” she said.

While rewriting their will the couple decided to donate to the Hennepin Health Foundation.

While returning was an emotional experience, Elizabeth Abraham said it was an uplifting synergetic event because they were thanking the staff while the staff also thanked them.


Downtown core

Unique reunions at St. Thomas School of Law

Stephen Rondestvedt, a former lawyer defrauded clients of more than $750,000. David Logan, former CEO and city administrator in Pipestone, pled guilty to bank fraud at Global Ventures and bribery offenses related to his time as city administrator. Nick and Carolyn Ruberg pled guilty of mail fraud in connection to a $1 million false-invoicing scheme.

On Nov. 12, a forum at the University of St. Thomas will introduce the four white-collar criminals to the judges and prosecuting attorneys who faced them in court.

At “Crime, Punishment and Redemption: Three Unique Reunions,” prosecutors who charged the cases will lead discussions between those convicted and the judges who sentenced them.

In 2003, when Hank Shea worked for the United States Attorney’s Office for Minnesota he invited a venture capitalist, who he prosecuted for security fraud, to speak to MBA students about where he had gone wrong.

Shea said the event was a success, and since then he has expanded the event. This is the first time the judges are invited to join, he said. The forum will also focus on how the offenders are trying to rebuild their lives after spending time in prison.

The purpose of the event is for people to hear cautionary tales from these persons and to discover opportunities for finding and obtaining redemption even after they failed and were held accountable, he said.

The forum is part of a series of Medtronic Business and Law Roundtables hosted by St. Thomas’ Opus School of Business Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions and the Center for Ethical Business Cultures.

The event is from 4­–6 p.m. at the Schulze Grand Atrium at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, 1000 LaSalle Ave. The forum is free and open to the public but those interested in attending should reserve a spot at

A transatlantic partnership

Globe University Minnesota School of Business, which has a campus in the IDS Center, joined Vision Slovakia to partner with University of Zilina in the Slovak Republic. On Nov. 16 the public is invited to join both institutions for a panel discussion about building transatlantic and international academic cooperatives. The discussion will be at 11 a.m. followed by a networking event at the concourse level of the IDS Center, 80 S. 8th St. RSVP to Kathey Gartland by Nov. 11 at or 651-332-8065.

Three leaders from the University of Zilina — President Jan Bujnak, Dean Zdena Kralova and Michael Valco, a faculty member of Natural Science and Informatics, will speak during the discussion.


North Loop

Northstar Commuter Rail opens

At 11:15 a.m. on Nov. 14 the first Northstar Commuter Rail will arrive with passengers from Fridley at Target Field Station.

Before the rail arrives a civic ceremony will be hosted by Metropolitan Council Chair Peter Bell at 10:30 a.m. Representatives from the city, county, Twins and the Minneapolis Ballpark Authority will speak at the upper Hiawatha light rail station and then move down to the Northstar platform to greet the Northstar, said Bob Gibbons, a Metro Transit spokesman. Once the rail arrives participants can take tours of the new rails, he said.

The celebration will continue until 5 p.m. with bands and kid-friendly activities, including toy trains and a station for children to craft conductor hats. The celebration will also feature information booths.

The 40-mile rail, which will travel from Big Lake to Downtown, will officially begin serving passengers on Nov. 16. The Hiawatha light rail extension will begin paid service on Nov. 14.


Loring Park

More trees on their way

When Mike Addy, a Loring Park resident, noticed sections of the sidewalk were torn up as part of the Hawthorne and 12th street reconstruction he saw an opportunity.

The Loring Park Post Office originally had four trees planted next to the building a few years ago, but the trees were in poor condition and were removed, he said.

Two years ago the post master agreed to add tree cut outs to replace those that were removed, he said. So since sections of the sidewalk immediately adjacent to 12th Street were torn up it was a great opportunity to add trees since that section of the sidewalk was already removed.

Trees and mulch will be added this spring and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is responsible for the plantings, he said.

Addy said the planting of the trees is to the credit of Public Works for arranging for the green space, CLPC and the forestry division.

Reach Amanda Kushner at