Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Honoring Prince in Henderson September 3, 2020

This bronze statue of Prince, crafted by Brodin Studios in Kimball, Minnesota, focuses a Prince Memorial Garden in Henderson, Minnesota.


MY CONNECTION TO THE MUSICIAN Prince, of Purple Rain fame, stretches back to my stint as a news reporter for the Owatonna People’s Press. The girlfriend of my then co-worker Roy was an extra in the movie. In a crowd scene, probably, although I’m uncertain. I don’t recall her name, but she was a quiet and beautiful young woman with hair the color of corn silk.


The mural (painted by Moises Suriel) and a memorial bench were the first installations in 2018 with the statue added recently. Donations from fans primarily funded the project.


Fast forward to 36 years after the release of that 1984 movie and I found myself in Henderson, where a memorable scene from the movie was filmed on the banks of the Minnesota River. I’ve not seen the movie nor am I familiar with Prince’s music, other than “Purple Rain.” Still, I recognize his value as a musician and his worldwide popularity. He’s an important part of Minnesota’s performing arts history and a draw for those who are fans.


An overview of the Prince Park in downtown Henderson, located at 522 Main Street/Minnesota State Highway 19 and next to the busy Henderson RoadHaus, a bar, restaurant and event center (and popular with bikers).


For those reasons, I wanted to photograph the latest tribute to Prince, a lovely pocket park in the heart of historic downtown Henderson. The park focal point is a life-size bronze statue of Prince set against a backdrop mural. Purple petunias, purple benches, even a purple mailbox (with guestbook inside) frame the garden honoring Prince Rogers Nelson.


Up close with Prince, in bronze.


On the Saturday afternoon I visited, Joel King, president of Prince Legacy Henderson Project Inc., presided at the site, purple folding chair open on the sidewalk next to his vehicle. He worked as a cameraman for Graffiti Bridge (the sequel to Purple Rain), has a long credit history in filming and now lives in Henderson. He introduced himself as the man behind the Prince memorial and offered plenty of advice on photographing it. Ever the cameraman.


Another look at the Prince memorial.


I got a few photos; not as many as I wanted. I decided I would do better to return on a day when no one is around, when I can take my time photographing this homegrown Prince Garden, when Henderson isn’t teeming with people…


This billboard stands along the northbound lane of Interstate 35 in Faribault, which is about an hour from Henderson. Paisley Park is only a 40-minute drive from Henderson.


FYI: This Friday, September 4, The Relief Sessions Summer Concert Series in Burnsville honors Prince during a “Celebrating the Music of Prince! LIVE!” session from 7:30-8:45 pm by Chase & Ovation. The group bills itself as presenting the “World’s Premier Prince Tribute Show.”

TELL ME: Have you heard Chase & Ovation or seen the Prince park in Henderson or toured Prince’s home and studio at Paisley Park?

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Minnesota teen debuts Dylan-style hit, “The Unforgettable Storm” July 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:27 AM
Tags: , , , , ,

TAKE NOTE, DYLAN FANS. Minnesota musician Emily Mattison’s debut performance of a Bob-Dylan-style song this past weekend has fans buzzing about this talented teen.

Strumming her guitar and following the talk-sing style of Dylan, the 16-year-old presented “The Unforgettable Storm” to a small-town audience in a city park edged by cornfields.

Fans embraced and applauded the young singer for her original lyrics that accurately captured one woman’s experience during a severe storm that ravaged the state Friday night.

Emily sang this rendition of a memorable ride through that storm following the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant in Walnut Grove:

Going home to Vesta

From the Pageant

A bunch of happy campers…not.


It was storming

The wind was howling

It was one of those Minnesota Moments*


My heart was pounding

The weeds were laying flat

And, mom, I saw them

It was very scary


At the Pageant

I’d had a good time

Watching Laura Ingalls in real life


But after it ended

The ride home was terrible


I put my camera on the floor

I don’t know what I was thinking

I was just waiting and praying


When the ride

Finally ended

I screamed “thank you, God!”


Then I went to my mother

And I gave her a hug

“that was so scary”


But now we can joke about it

I don’t have to worry about it

I wish I’d taken some pictures

Of the unforgettable storm


The unforgettable storm

Yeah, the unforgettable storm.


Yup, Emily’s version of my experience caught on the road with three other family members during a severe thunderstorm that packed 70 mph winds is spot on accurate. I did enjoy the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant in Walnut Grove. I did see the weeds blown flat along the side of the road.

My heart was pounding. I was praying. I did set my camera bag at my feet in the rocking car. (Why didn’t I take pictures?)

Yes, I hugged my mom and said, “that was so scary” when we safely reached her house an hour after we began the 20-mile drive back to Vesta.

I didn’t scream thanks to God, but I did quietly thank him. That’s OK, Emily. “Scream” sounds more dramatic and there was a lot of drama Friday night, at least for me.

The storm was, as Emily sang in verse three, “one of those Minnesota Moments.” A clever choice of words given I write for Minnesota Moments magazine.

Thanks, Emily, for putting a humorous spin on a truly terrifying experience. And thanks for publicly performing your original hit, per my gentle (maybe not-so-gentle) prodding at the annual Kletscher family reunion.

I loved the song, even if I didn’t love the unforgettable storm.

Minnesota musician Emily Mattison

TWIN CITIES AREA musician Emily Mattison is a member of the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies, has been playing violin for six years, guitar for two and nine months ago began strumming the ukulele. She wrote the lyrics for “The Unforgettable Storm” in about 20 minutes.

© Text Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

© Lyrics Copyright 2010 Emily Mattison

Photo courtesy of Ronda Mattison