Town Crier: Mom, 90, finds cheery warmth amid chill

MONTCLARION: November 28, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from Minnesota! When it comes to gobblers, California’s got nothing on my home state. In fact, Minnesota is America’s top turkey producer with 49 million birds raised annually.

But I didn’t just come here to talk turkey. My mom turned 90 this week, and her birthday present — a bucket list item she’d wanted for years — was a road trip to Rochester, home of the Mayo Clinic.

And no, it wasn’t for medical reasons. My mom can shop circles around me at the mall. She wanted to see the impressive Mayo family estate in its holiday splendor.

The Mayowood mansion has 38 exquisite rooms on a bluff overlooking the Zumbro River Valley. Owned by the Olmsted County Historical Society, it gives visitors a unique perspective into the life of America’s most famous medical family.

Rochester, itself, is a fascinating city. The Mayo Clinic, its partner hospitals and nearby shops are linked by a network of temperature-controlled tunnels and skyways. Our hotel, the historic Grand Kahler, was connected too — and that made mom very happy. Minnesota can be chilly in winter.

But weather aside, we found the warmest people in this town of 110,000, forged by five generations of doctors named Mayo. More than three quarters of a million patients and their families come here each year. It takes a special place to make them feel welcome.

Around Town: Back home, the elves are preparing for next Thursday’s Holiday Stroll in Montclair Village. There’ll be mulled wine, caroling, sweet treats and Santa, plus late-night shopping and trolley rides. Walk, ride your bike or park free in the Montclair Village garage from 5 to 8 p.m.

Ho Ho hike: Where can you find Christmas berries, mistletoe, beard lichen (Santa’s?) and even mule deer masquerading as reindeer? The answer is on a moderate 5-mile hike to Mount Diablo’s Twin Peaks. The hike is from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 21 and reservations are required at or

Animal tales: The day after Thanksgiving is a fun time to forage through the fridge for leftovers. But residents of the Oakland Zoo have it even better. They get pumpkin goodies galore, thanks to the truckloads of gourds that were donated yesterday. The elephants, baboons and sun bears will munch on pumpkins straight through the holidays.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at


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