Memorable Night of Gold has its silver anniversary

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Swimmers and key figures in the conception of Cape Girardeau Municipal Pool commemorated the 25-year anniversary.

It was a first for the city of Cape Girardeau at the time, a joint city-school board project.

Now, 25 years later, the Cape Girardeau Municipal Pool is still going strong as current and former Gator swim team members, along with several people prominent in the pool's conception and history, gathered Saturday at the pool to celebrate its first quarter-century.

David Hahs, who was the original emcee of what was called the Night of Gold, once again led the ceremonies which included words from current Mayor Jay Knudtson, Paul Stehr, who was mayor at the time, and Dr. Art Turner, who was superintendent for the school district in 1980.

Turner, who drove to Cape for the ceremony from his home in Columbus, Ind., said he is proud to be a part of something as positive as the pool.

"It took a lot of people agreeing, a lot of people compromising to get this done, and it got done," he said. "I don't think any one group could have done it at that time."

Added Stehr: "A decision on this was really a slam dunk. It was a simple decision."

When the original Night of Gold took place, five Olympic medalists, including four gold medal winners, were in town to take part in the ceremony. Donna deVarona, Bill Forrester, Rowdy Gaines, Wendy Boglioli and John Naber were all in attendance and christened the pool.

Since that time, the pool has played host to both Central and Notre Dame's high school swim teams along with the Gators club team.

While reading through the original program from the Night of Gold, Hahs joked about the numerous advertisements for businesses that have since gone out of business. He was quick to mention one part of the program that has not gone anywhere.

"One of the things that has not changed in 25 years is the Cape Gator swim team," Hahs said.

The formal ceremony was the culmination of an entire day of events at the pool. During the afternoon about 700 people took advantage of free public swimming which was offered along with games and food.

Turner said the pool has become a staple in the city.

"I think it has helped for the quality of life," he said. "I'm just delighted to see the number of people that are using it."

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