Author: Mollee Francisco

At Department 56, it all begins with a story: A young couple celebrating the purchase of their first home, an iconic toy store ready to amaze and delight customers with a magical experience, a little boy who simply wants a Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle for Christmas. These are the stories that Christmas village collectors can’t get enough of, and many of these stories originate at the Department 56 headquarters in Eden Prairie. Each year, Department 56 adds a few pieces to each of its four core Christmas villages. Photo by Mollee Francisco “Every house has…

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As Florida braces to potentially be hit by a rare November hurricane, Eden Prairie Fire Chief Scott Gerber is still processing his recent trip to Florida to help with response efforts following the massive and destructive Category 4 Hurricane Ian. In late September, Gerber was deployed to DeSoto County, north of Fort Myers, as part of the Minnesota All Hazards Incident Management Team. “This is state-to-state mutual aid,” explained Gerber. Scott Gerber (center) addresses a team of volunteers at an emergency management center in DeSoto County, Florida. “The state has great resources, great people to deploy,” he noted, adding that…

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Blake Sorensen didn’t start a business to make money. He started a business to solve a problem. Four years later, that business — Blake’s Seed Based — is taking off and making life easier, and tastier, in the process. Blake Sorensen played football at Eden Prairie High School and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Photo courtesy of Blake Sorensen Sorensen, now 34, was just two years old when his parents discovered he had a nut allergy. “I’ve grown up my entire life avoiding certain snacks,” he said. So when the 2007 Eden Prairie High School grad was tasked with solving one…

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Patrick Donohue’s first foray into entrepreneurial life began with a few pieces of paper, a small table and a pitcher of ice-cold lemonade. Today, Donohue has traded the lemonade for words of wisdom as he offers valuable lessons to budding entrepreneurs trying to build a successful business with his new book “Breakout Valuation.” Published by Houndstooth Press on Sept. 20, “Breakout Valuation” represents the culmination of decades of Donohue’s business experience. The 45-year-old Eden Prairie resident currently serves as CEO and managing partner of Hill Capital Corporation. He is also actively involved with local entrepreneur organizations 1 Million Cups Eden…

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It may be hard to imagine today’s bustling Eden Prairie as a quiet little hamlet of just a couple thousand residents, but for longtime residents like Barb Eigen, Bill Holte, Roger Dressen and Jack Kortz, it was once just that. “Saw it go from a quiet little idyllic place to the Eden Prairie that is now,” said Kortz. “I remember Eden Prairie being … it was an Eden to live there; it was just so beautiful.” Kortz is the latest interview to be posted as part of an oral history project that aims to gather and share stories about the…

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At 43, Adam Bartley is carving out a nice space for himself in the world of character actors in Hollywood. The Eden Prairie native and 1997 Eden Prairie High School grad’s most recent role is in the captivating new sci-fi/drama series “Night Sky,” now streaming Season 1 on Amazon Prime. “Night Sky” follows retired couple Franklin and Irene York (played by J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek) as they unravel the secrets surrounding a mysterious chamber buried in their backyard. Bartley plays Byron Albemarle, a nosy neighbor who has noticed strange things happening at the York residence and won’t rest until…

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Pickleball may seem like a silly name for a sport, but it’s no laughing matter to the millions of players across the country. Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States, including in Minnesota. And Eden Prairie has been leading the charge in the southwest metro to provide ample opportunity for enthusiasts to get their fill of the racket sport. The city currently has nearly two dozen courts with the hope for more as demand for the sport surges. Staring Lake Park has eight outdoor pickleball courts. Photo by Gillian Holte Invented on a whim in 1965…

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After a two-year hiatus, travel is back on the menu for many. With COVID-19 restrictions easing and positive cases relatively low in the Twin Cities, comfort levels have risen and locals have begun to quench their thirst for travel. “The industry is reporting a rebound to travel since the pandemic began two years ago,” said Melissa Rosdahl, an Eden Prairie-based travel advisor for Ciao Bambino. “I am seeing a pent-up demand for leisure travel, especially for families, who want to experience the joy of exploring destinations and creating memories, both domestic and internationally.” Hot spots Stateside, Rosdahl said that outdoor-centric…

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There might be no such thing as a free lunch, but a free chair – that’s entirely possible, thanks to the efforts of people like Kristy Hymans. Hymans is the moderator for a Facebook group called Freecycle – Eden Prairie, MN. The private group allows members to offer items free of charge or to solicit free items from others. Hymans started the group in August 2018 after noting a plethora of Facebook Marketplace listings for free items. “I had the idea that having a smaller group of Eden Prairie residents who wanted to share free items would be useful to…

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Crumbl Cookies’ employees mix up fresh cookie dough at the new Eden Prairie location. Photos by Mollee Francisco Those iconic pink boxes laden with soft, sugary treats have made their way to Eden Prairie. Crumbl Cookies is located at Fountain Place on Castlemoor Drive near Home Goods. Crumbl Cookies celebrated the grand opening of its latest Twin Cities location on March 11. The Eden Prairie franchise can be found at 12575 Castlemoor Drive in Fountain Place — the same commercial complex that houses Home Goods and Sierra Trading Post. Crumbl Cookies is the brainchild of cousins Jason McGowan and Sawyer…

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