Tuesday, August 27, 2013 4:29 AM
In response to Karen Kloberdanz's letter to the editor, I would like to address some of her statements. First of all, the event was not part of Chatfield Western Days; it does not involve the City of Chatfield in any way. However, this event does draw people to town to enjoy the festivities who would not otherwise be here. The area used for landing in Calvary (not Calgary) Cemetery has always been known as the "open triangle." It is owned by St. Mary's Catholic Church and is controlled by the cemetery board. There was no liability to the church or cemetery for this event whatsoever and that was taken care of in advance of the event. The area was left in as good a condition as before the event. In the past, this area has been used as a hayfield and as a driving range by the golf course and for the Doc Skaug tournament. People also cross-country ski in the cemetery. Are these activities also considered sacrilegious?
As it happens, I have dear relatives buried there also, and in fact, very close to yours. At no point were any vehicles parked on any graves. They would have had to have driven between gravestones in order to do this. The area where vehicles parked is the same area used for parking for funerals and masses. As a member of the VFW color guard, this is where we park when we perform military rites at the cemetery.
As to the children she observed playing "on and around the headstones," they were not there with anyone associated with the skydiving, but were more likely there with relatives visiting graves. Perhaps this should have been addressed with the adults when it was observed.
There was a travel trailer parked in the "open triangle" next to the pine trees that brought skydiving equipment and served as an office during these two days. There was also a canopy erected near this travel trailer to provide shade to the employees while having skydivers fill out paperwork. This is as close to a "campsite" as it got. The employees of Southern Minnesota Skydiving stayed at the motel in Preston; they did not camp there.
Yes, some of the people who came out to watch the landings brought lawn chairs and beer. No one was intoxicated and several of them are members of St. Mary's.
The term sunbathing brings to mind people in swimsuits, laying on towels or lawn chairs soaking up the sun. This did not happen. As previously stated, there were people sitting in lawn chairs - away from the graves, watching. There was no one playing horseshoes - no one.
If there were campers on the blacktop road (a public road) adjacent to the cemetery, they were not part of the event and County Road 5 was never blocked.
I'm certainly sorry that Karen was offended by this; however I am offended by her letter accusing us of being sacrilegious. As far as contacting the bishop, I would certainly hope that she would get her facts straight and get over her anger before doing so. I have the entire list of people who participated in this event. They come from all faiths, including many who belong to St. Mary's and obviously were not offended by the use of the "open triangle" as a landing site.
In her words, "needless to say it totally pissed me off," I can only assume that this caused confusion as to what she saw. If there are any other questions, Karen is free to contact me. Again, I'm sorry she was offended by this.
Skydiving event coordinator