Regina’s German community celebrates the joy of glockenspiel

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“We are part of the city and of Saskatchewan, and it is beautiful to see that part of us is standing here,” said a German-Reginian upon hearing the bells for the first time.

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A year after the first glockenspiel hit Regina’s town square, members of the local German community celebrated the culmination of years of hard work to restore a symbol of their roots in the city.

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The Tuesday festivities, just after noon at the corner of 12th Avenue and Scarth Street, marked the completion of major improvements to the long-lost instrument. Now he’s in great shape to ring his tunes, and Germans-Saskatchewanians have joined local dignitaries and the curious to listen to an extensive playlist.

The 23 bells of the glockenspiel played classical and modern tunes, while German voices burst in to sing the words of their ancestral homeland.

“Today, while I am here, I can say that our glockenspiel is a work of art,” said Alvin Knoll, board member of the Regina German Club, who was instrumental in the return of the musical monument.

The city removed the glockenspiel in 2010 during the construction of City Square Plaza at the north end of Victoria Park. It was left derelict in a city yard for years, until the council voted in 2017 to consider returning it, then committed the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to repair and reinstall the instrument. .

“It was a long way to go, but we had a lot of good people working on it,” Knoll said.

REGINA, SASK: October 19, 2021 - German Club board member Alvin Knoll speaks at a lunchtime celebration for the completion of major Glockenspiel upgrades.  The Glockenspiel was dismantled and stored in 2011 during the renovation of City Square Plaza.TROY FLEECE / Regina Leader-Post
REGINA, SASK: October 19, 2021 – German Club board member Alvin Knoll speaks at a lunchtime celebration for the completion of major Glockenspiel upgrades. The Glockenspiel was dismantled and stored in 2011 during the renovation of City Square Plaza.TROY FLEECE / Regina Leader-Post Photo by TROY FLEECE /Regina Chief Position

Regina — Wascana MP Michael Kram appeared on Tuesday for what he called an important moment for the city’s German community. Com. John Findura, a strong supporter of the project, called it a “symbol of collaboration”. He hopes that this time he’s here to stay.

“We know that the glockenspiel will be a sustainable landmark in the heart of our city and will significantly contribute to the cultural dynamism of our city center,” he said.

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Regina’s glockenspiel has evolved since its installation in 1985. As Knoll noted, the archaic technology that operated the bells has given way to a modern control system with vast musical selections.

“The high-end Commodore 64 that ran the glockenspiel…

REGINA, SASK: October 19, 2021 - A noon hour celebration was held for the completion of major upgrades to the Glockenspiel.  The Glockenspiel was dismantled and stored in 2011 during the renovation of City Square Plaza.TROY FLEECE / Regina Leader-Post
REGINA, SASK: October 19, 2021 – A noon hour celebration was held for the completion of major upgrades to the Glockenspiel. The Glockenspiel was dismantled and stored in 2011 during the renovation of City Square Plaza.TROY FLEECE / Regina Leader-Post Photo by TROY FLEECE /Regina Chief Position

Glockenspiels adorn the squares of towns and villages across much of Germany, including Cologne and Munich. But even Germans attending the Tuesday festivities in Regina felt a special connection to the newly restored monument in renowned Pat Fiacco Square.

Andrea MacLeod, née Hermann, said Regina’s glockenspiel is now her glockenspiel. She is originally from Leipzig, a city in the former East Germany where, according to MacLeod, instruments are less common.

Despite her role in the Regina German Club, she said Tuesday was the first time she heard the glockenspiel chime. It was a moment of emotion.

“A tear rolled down my cheek, because it was a lot of work,” she said in German, calling it an important symbol for her community. “We’re part of the city and part of Saskatchewan, and it’s beautiful to see a part of us standing here… It means a lot to us.

MacLeaod hopes it will last for generations as a symbol, not only of Regina’s German community, but of bringing people together.

A midday celebration was held for the completion of the major upgrades to the Glockenspiel.  The Glockenspiel was dismantled and stored in 2011 during the renovation of City Square Plaza.
A midday celebration was held for the completion of the major upgrades to the Glockenspiel. The Glockenspiel was dismantled and stored in 2011 during the renovation of City Square Plaza. Photo by TROY FLEECE /Regina Chief Position

The return of the glockenspiel – a timeline

Regina’s glockenspiel has come a long way from Germany to Victoria Park until it was abandoned in a city courtyard and then returned to its present glory.

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Here is an overview of the key stages in the journey of a Regina monument.

1985 – Glockenspiel installed in Victoria Park in homage to the German settlers of Regina

The brass bells commissioned especially for the Regina Multicultural Council's glockenspiel arrive from Germany in time to happily ring Christmas 1985 in downtown Regina.  The bells for the glockenspiel, a $ 60,000 project, were unwrapped by Bob McWhirter and Chriss Ross of the city's Parks and Recreation Department and Winfred Schlosser of the Multicultural Council.  Leader-Post files
The brass bells commissioned especially for the Regina Multicultural Council’s glockenspiel arrive from Germany in time to happily ring Christmas 1985 in downtown Regina. The bells for the glockenspiel, a $ 60,000 project, were unwrapped by Bob McWhirter and Chriss Ross of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and Winfred Schlosser of the Multicultural Council. Leader-Post files jpg

2010 – Glockenspiel dismantled and removed due to construction work on City Square Plaza

2016 – The Regina German Club multiplies years of efforts to re-erect the glockenspiel

Early 2017 – Glockenspiel frame located in the city courtyard, without bells or concrete plinth, and generally in poor condition

November 2017 – Regina City Council votes 8-1 to include up to $ 350,000 in the city’s budget proposal for the return of the glockenspiel to its home in Victoria Park; “We have an obligation to restore this,” said then mayor Michael Fougere

December 2018 – City launches an initial tender in a two-step process to rebuild the glockenspiel, seeking a control system capable of playing up to 1,000 musical selections and a three-way clock faces

January 2019 – Second call for tenders issued to find a general contractor to lead the electrical, concrete, metallurgical and painting work, as well as the transport of glockenspiel from the city yard

September 2019 – The City is looking for a new entrepreneur after the failure of negotiations

February 2020 – The Regina German Club hosts a ceremony to celebrate the grand opening this month to relocate the glockenspiel at the corner of 12th Avenue and Scarth Street

October 2020 – Although pending upgrades, the glockenspiel plays again for the first time after its restoration, as crews test the bells

October 19, 2021 – The German community celebrates as the glockenspiel plays a wide selection of songs at a ceremony

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