Storm damaged band shell holds precious memories - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Storm damaged band shell holds precious memories


A historic band shell that's stood in Wabeno for more than 70 years is no longer standing.

When strong storms ripped through the Northwoods on Sunday, the landmark was destroyed.

Newsline 9 dug deeper into the concert venue's background and found out why to some, the shell is much more than just storm damage.

Lonnie Bodoh said the iron letters and pieces of wood that now litter the ground in downtown Wabeno represent a lifetime of memories.

"I'm still having trouble with that," he said as he tried to process exactly what the strong winds had done.

That's because he formed the letters and painted the boards with his own hands. And he said the landmark band shell became even more meaningful to him, after his wife, Bets, passed away.

"We spent 56 years married," he said.

Bets passed away earlier this year, but not before she saw her life's mission to restore the shell completed.

"Every day these guys would come out and heckle her about...We're going to burn that down. We're going to tear it down," Bodoh said.

So when he heard that the shell had been damaged in Sunday's storm, his heart sank.

"I knew that it had to be something right here then. And, anyhow, that's what I saw," he said, turning toward the wreckage.

Park officials said the band shell is a total loss.

"It's going to be kind of hard to determine what it's really worth," Parks board member Larry Rummel said.

People in Wabeno are devastated.

"We've been through quite a few storms and we never had it happen before and it's just kind of unusual to have something like that," Will Ehlinger said.

Others remembered nights spend under the starts listening to music and mingling with neighbors. 

"You'd bring your blankets and your chairs because the nights are cool," Town Clerk Marrette Tucker said.

It was a symbol of community in Wabeno. One town leaders said they plan to rebuild.

"It's been a unique part of Wabeno and everybody feels very strongly that we should try to rebuild, which we are going to definitely try to do," Rummel said.

Bodoh said he'll do his part to restore it again. For the town, and his wife.

"Well if she's going to do it, I'm going to do it," he said.

Adding to the ordeal, the town usually holds its Memorial Day celebration under the band shell. Town leaders said, they plan to continue that tradition on Monday. Only this year, the ceremony will take place without the band shell, on the stage that's still standing.


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