Squeals of delight fill the air. The constant buzz of casual conversation is broken up by the occasional rambunctious giggle, indisputably contagious among those present. Young and old alike intermingle about, each equally impressed with the heartwarming occurrence underway, relishing in the presence of the opposite. Indeed, these welcomed actions and behaviors prove that somehow, even amidst the darkest of waters, sunlight almost always still manages to break through, creating that ever-dazzling ray all who witness are eternally entranced and inspired by.
Unfortunately, this alleged obscurity is all too familiar for family and friends of Teresa and Banjo Erickson, the couple lost in a tragic automobile accident in the early spring of 2015. However, as is generally proven true, dawn came in the form of a recent dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony, held Sunday, September 17 at the Nature Center in Houston, Minnesota.
The duo, having each grown up in the rural city alongside one another as sweethearts, were undoubtedly well-known to those of the area, many professing of their evident passion not only seen towards each other, but in actively helping communities near and far.
Considering the twosome’s widespread positive impact, it only made sense for the family to donate received inheritance in a way to exemplify and promote such among others. Although Teresa and Banjo did not have any children, their frequent encouragements towards humanitarian actions deemed a sort of teamwork between the Houston Nature Center and relations aimed at providing beneficial experiences for kids as obvious.
With the collaboration effectively established, Nature Center staff and members of a non-profit auxiliary group known as Friends set about creating plans in regards to building additional features in hopes of enhancing the Center’s already completed assets. With that, the prospects of a so-called “tree house” and zipline were born.
Eager to get the project underway, construction began as quickly as the unpredictable Minnesota weather permitted, finally doing so in spring of last year, greatly aided by retired building contractor Roger Meyer, who was in turn assisted immensely by Pat McAndrews. Throughout the process, supplementary donations were received as a means of further support for the wondrous venture.
Fast forward to the celebration, and excitement emanated throughout the air. The ceremony included an introduction by President of the Friends of the Nature Center, Audrey Alfson, followed by a brief presentation by sister-in-law Lisa Skifton. Furthermore, following the zipline ribbon-cutting, family members had the honor of test running the amusement, prior to its opening to the public. In addition, as a result of the lack of survival of the original, a tree was planted as a memorial for the couple. However, possibly best of all, though not noted on the preordained agenda, was the indisputable fun had by all of those who attended.
As for the newfound attractions themselves, the “tree house” is in reality merely a playhouse situated within the tree canopies, encompassed by a deck and railing and offering a skylight showcasing the prime location. Four-way entry provides easy access, as do a gently swinging bridge and floor escapes complete with a rope and fireman’s pole. The zipline, on the other hand, offers a quick, exhilarating ride of approximately 180 feet. The thrill accommodates a variety of passengers, with various handles available dependent on height, as well as the durability to handle an adequate amount of weight, ideal for channeling the kid at heart even in the most elderly of individuals.
All in all, Teresa and Banjo Erickson were not only well-known for, but widely recognized and respected for their generous commitment to public-spirited efforts. Commemorating their astounding efforts and heartening feelings of harmony, the ceremony assuredly did the couple, as well as all of society, justice. As perhaps best said by Alfson herself, “It is more than just a tree house and zipline. It is purely a labor of love.”