Music in the Park

White Bear Band has rich history.

Music has long been an important part of the social culture in the White Bear area. During the resort era of the late nineteenth century, hundreds of people would gather at Leip’s Hotel near Cottage Park or along the banks of Lake Avenue to listen to the musicians on the band barges as they puttered through the water. In 1888, the White Bear Brass Band was organized. It performed at local venues such as the Fire Hall in the cool months and the bandstand at Railroad Park in the warmer weather. By the 1890s, the community band was authorized to use the Village Hall for their weekly practice sessions and lights were added to the bandstand in the park for evening performances.

As the resort era dwindled and White Bear evolved from a summer destination to a year-round community in the early 1900s, organizations began to form and music remained a significant component of daily life. Several churches, including the Presbyterian, Episcopal and Catholic churches, had choirs that practiced regularly.

In March of 1914,  superintendent F.F. Farrar and local publisher H.J. Keeler organized the White Bear Band. By 1920, Harry Hauglie was the bandleader and the Village was contracting for weekly entertainment at Railroad Park during the thirteen weeks of summer. This tradition continued for many years with concerts on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Fridays depending on the contract each season. During the height of these concerts, it is estimated that nearly two thousand people would gather, some in their autos, or sitting on park benches or strolling along the streets of downtown to take in the sounds of their neighbors playing in the band.

Sara Markoe Hanson is the executive director of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society.