Letter to the Editor
To the Editor:
I’m all in favor of putting Luverne on the map, but I don’t support the plans to construct a 75-foot-tall mechanical nutcracker in town for tourism.
We have a wonderful town with beautiful history and this nutcracker doesn't
represent Luverne in the slightest.
The desire for this giant nutcracker came from community branding expert
Roger Brooks who visited Luverne looking for ways to increase tourism. I don’t doubt his expertise, but visiting a town full of nutcrackers made his job of making us “different” exceptionally easy.
According to Brooks, it’s all about how long people stay, “Get them [tourists] to stay two hours and spending will double. ... Overnight visitors spend four times that of day visitors.”
This nutcracker isn’t encouraging overnight visitors, it isn’t even encouraging two-hour visitors. Yes, we’d get tourism, but not the kind we really want, according to Brooks.
What better options do we have to increase tourism? According to the MN DNR page, Blue Mounds State Park, before its loss of the lake and the closing of the Manfred house, received nearly 50,000 more visitors than highest predicted visitors for the nutcracker.
Although we can’t decide where the money would go toward the State Park, we can still provide funding that could go toward projects like the Manfred house. Other Tourism possibilities include funding a trail-head or bike rental building, Segway tours in town, an amphitheater or splash pad, a plaza or town square, Blue Mounds and State Park projects, bison tours, rock climbing programs, the local food forest in production, or the one of six drive-in theaters in Minnesota.
Are people even interested in this nutcracker? According to recent polls posted by the Facebook page of Luverne Area Chatter, out of 581 participants,76 percent said no to a giant statue of any kind, and out of 1,033 participants, 88 percent said no to a giant nutcracker. Other Luverne residents who’ve spoken with guests visiting Luverne have reported no interest or desire to visit the nutcracker. Why aren’t we listening to this? If people genuinely aren’t interested in this nutcracker, why are we pushing for it?
At a recent nutcracker committee meeting held Nov. 2, the nutcracker committee themselves referred to this project as a “gimmick” to get people here. This is not a project with cultural or historical significance and value, it is an expensive effort to turn Luverne into a meaningless
roadside attraction, and I’m disappointed that the numbers we bring in are more important than why we bring them in.
If we can’t value ourselves, how will anyone else value us? Luverne deserves much better than this.