A crowd of about 75 people gathered on Tuesday, June 19, as the bandstand in River Hill Park was dedicated to the memory of Larry Ammel, a former band director at Kewaskum High School who died on April 16, 2017. “He impacted the lives of countless young people during his successful tenure as the Kewaskum High School band director,” Village President Kevin Scheunemann said.
“After the conclusion of his career he continued to serve the community in a variety of ways including a term on the Village Board and being a leader of the Kewaskum Kiwanis Club.” Ammel also led musicians at Peace Church. He founded the Kewaskum Area Arts Council, the Kewaskum Big Band and the Music In The Park program.
The bandstand dates back to 1938, when the Village of Kewaskum received a $12,355 grant from the Works Progress Administration to improve River Hill Park. In addition to building a bandstand, the grant money was used to seed and grade the park, add riprap, create landscaping, and construct fireplaces and bathhouses.
In its early years, the bandstand was used for concerts and gatherings at the park. Later, the bandstand was used for the Independence Day celebration and the Kewaskum Firemen’s Picnic. It also has served as a venue for wedding photos. However, in recent years the bandstand fell into disrepair. In 2016, the Village Board considered razing the structure.
But Ammel did not want the community to lose the iconic gazebo. He spearheaded an effort for the Kewaskum Kiwanis Club to restore and refurbish the bandstand. First, the Kiwanis Club replaced the roof. Then Colin DeYoung, a member of Boy Scout troop 744, decided to paint the structure as his Eagle Project. Colin, who recently turned 16, worked last summer to restore the bandstand.
To complete the project, Colin pressure washed the bandstand, scraped it and then painted it. In addition, Colin replaced some of the boards and fixed the steps. “It turned out to be more work than what we thought at first, but it worked out great,” Colin said. It took about 18 people to do over 200 hours of work to complete the project. Most of the workers were Scouts, but several Kiwanis members volunteered as well. “We had to line up pressure washers and go to the Village Hall and get keys, so it was a lot of running around.
It was hard for me to find rides everywhere, working around my schedule and my parents’ schedule, and our troop schedule,” Colin said. The biggest challenge was determining the cost and figuring how to pay for the supplies, according to Colin. He appreciates Heberer Bros. for providing scaffolding and the village for providing water.
On July 3, during the Independence Day celebration, Colin will help the Kiwanis Club sell food at River Hill Park to help offset some of the costs for the bandstand. “I would say the best part about the project was learning about leadership. I had some help from adults, but it was mostly led by me, and I made all the decisions,” Colin said. That meant Colin even led his father, Phil DeYoung, who is the troop’s leader. “It was pretty cool that I got to lead him instead of him leading me all the time,” Colin said.