Doing my job

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May 16, 2005 // UPDATED 1:54 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Jeremy Stratton
Jeremy Stratton

They're heavy. They must be taken apart, cleaned and reassembled. They need replacing. It takes two days and three different ladders to put them up. All 235 of them. Every year.

Each spring, the arms of the Berger fountain are reattached after a winter's rest. This year, as previously, it fell to Park Board plumbers Bernie Hillstrom and Mike Klein.

It's not the favorite part of Hillstrom's job, but the Loring Park fountain "looks great when you get it running," he said.

"Your arms get a little tired after awhile," Klein said from atop a ladder as he screwed one of the bronze poles into place. Each one has a letter on it, from A to P, which determines where it is placed and how much water it will release when the fountain is activated this week.

Klein has been a plumber for 30 years; Hillstrom for 27. They maintain plumbing and irrigation on Park Board properties such as swimming pools, golf courses, park buildings and refectories.

The fountain will celebrate its 30th birthday in August. "It takes a lot of maintenance," Klein said.

Replacement parts are imported from Australia, where the fountain was built (an identical version in Sydney inspired the original donor, Ben Berger).

Both said they like the variety of their work. "No two days are ever the same," Klein said.

Hillstrom looked forward to his favorite part of the annual fountain reassembly: "When it's done."