2024 Sauk Rapids River Days

Page 1

Thursday, June 20

9 a.m. Medallion Hunt begins 5:30 p.m. Rock the Riverside Concert The Clearing 5:30 p.m. The Soupbones

7 p.m. Swamp Donkeys

6 p.m. Miss Sauk Rapids Pageant Sauk Rapids-Rice Middle School

Friday, June 21

6 p.m. Rapids River Days Parade Sixth Avenue

Saturday, June 22

11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Rapids River Food Fest Sauk Rapids Municipal Park Live music: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sawyer’s Dream

1:30-4 p.m. Janelle Kendall & The Thunder Road 4:30-7:30 p.m. Way Up North

Farewell to Miss Sauk Rapids Brynn Molitor (center) and Sauk Rapids princesses
Trinity Maki (left) and Amber Konietzko
www.SaukRapidsRiverDays.com 21st annual

Rapids River celebrates 35

Kathy Phenow, one of seven Rapids River Food Fest organizers,

distributing vendor token buckets June 24, 2023, at Municipal Park in

Rapids River Food Fest celebrates 35 years as a community event this year and will return as part of Rapids River Days on Saturday, June 22.

Municipal Park event has unique community history


crafters, amusements and entertainment, and do promotions and supervise token sales, parking and logistics during the event.

A vast selection of fare offered by a variety of vendors will return from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 22, at Sauk Rapids Municipal Park on North Benton Drive during the 35th annual Rapids River Food Fest.

“Every year, it’s heartwarming to see all of the people (in the) community come down to the park,” said Brenda Wilcox, a Rapids River Food Fest committee member for 25 years. “It’s cool seeing everybody and watching people have a good time. Food Fest page 3C

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members volunteer throughout the year to arrange vendors,
A sign directs Rapids River Food Fest attendees to its Municipal Park location in Sauk Rapids. Rapids River Food Fest has been well-served by dedicated volunteers and committee leadership during its three-plus decades of existence as an area community celebration.
takes a break while Sauk Rapids.

Food Fest

The hard work pays off. It’s a great event, and I hope people come out this year and enjoy it.”

Jill Zanardi also is a longtime Rapids River Food Fest committee member.

She serves as the non-profit organization’s treasurer. Monthly yearround meetings contribute to the festival’s success, she said.

“This year, we won’t be competing with St. Cloud, because their event is a week later,” Zanardi said, referring to Granite City Days (June 27-30), the separate fourday festival celebrating the history and culture of St. Cloud.

In July 1988, the Sauk Rapids Division of the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored a first-ever food fair called Rapids River Food Festival in the parking lot of the Norwest Bank in downtown Sauk Rapids, on the corner of Benton Drive and First Street South.

The food-tasting event was scheduled after the Wheels, Wings & Water Parade with the aim of drawing a crowd and providing an opportunity to sample ethnic

foods within a fun and entertaining atmosphere.

During the Rapids River Food Fest’s second year, the Sons of Norway served up kringle, lefse, rosettes and white sugar cookies, all priced at 25 cents each. Baking started Monday night at the Salem Lutheran Church in St. Cloud. Organization members intended to bake 900 kringle, 500 lefse, 600 rosettes and 1,000 white sugar cookies. Those totals were about five times the number baked in 1988.

Second year event attendance was approximately 2,500 people.

“The biggest change over the years has been larger crowds,” said Kathy Phenow, another one of the event’s seven organizers. “Attendance depends on the weather, but we have something for everybody.”

Zanardi said the Rapids River Food Fest has remained popular for so many years because of its variety.

“You have plenty of food, there’s beer, a lot of crafters, and loads of things for the kids to do,” she said.

Kid activities this year will include multiple bounce houses

Rapids River Food Fest attendees listen to live music June 24, 2023, at Municipal Park in Sauk Rapids. This year’s event will feature three live bands — Sawyer’s Dream, Janelle Kendall & The Thunder Road and Way Up North.

provided by AirMaxx Trampoline Park and animal rides provided by Jonah’s Ark Pony Parties & Petting Zoo, said Abigail Yozamp, committee member.

Fest page 7C

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from page 2C

Bella Stewart

Bella is the daughter of Jason and Shawna Stewart

What do you enjoy most about the Sauk Rapids community? I enjoy how supportive the Sauk Rapids community is, whether it is family or friends.

Tell us a little about yourself. I am the middle child of two siblings. I have been dancing at St. Cloud Just For Kix for 14 years and will be going into my 15th year. I have also been dancing on the Sauk Rapids dance team and this will be my fifth year. Dance is a big part of my life, and my team members are like family to me.

If crowned, what are you looking forward to most? I am most excited for the new friendships I will make. I am also excited to represent the city of Sauk Rapids.

If you could make one change to the Sauk Rapids community, what would the addition or subtraction be and why? One thing I would change about the community of Sauk Rapids is the outcomes of a lot of the high schoolers. Looking at this past senior year, a percentage of them dropped out or did not graduate. Making it so more seniors would graduate and have the opportunity to go to college would be something I would change.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I also enjoy going to the beach.

What or who encouraged you to become a Miss Sauk Rapids candidate? The girls who did it last year is what encouraged me to do it this year. I saw how much fun they were having and the bond that was created between them.

Natalie Rittmann

Sponsored by Granite City Armored Car

Natalie is the daughter of Eric and Dezra Rittmann

What do you enjoy most about the Sauk Rapids community? The thing I most enjoy about the Sauk Rapids community is the strong sense of togetherness and strength when faced with challenges. There is always a strong sense of support and willingness to come together to celebrate successes.

Tell us a little about yourself. I balance multiple roles and responsibilities. As the student council historian, I always display strong leadership skills. My dedication expands to the wrestling team, where I serve as a manager offering support and encouragement to the athletes. Being in DECA, as the secretary, showcases my business and professional side, and being reporter in FFA shows my agricultural side while also balancing my grades. I will also be an incoming Link Leader where I will give a warm welcome to the new freshman class. My passion for the youth expands onto my work environment by working with the children’s department at the library as a summer reading program aide.

If crowned, what are you looking forward to most? I look forward to all the different events, getting to meet new royalty, seeing how they run their program and getting to just know other members and youth within the community even more.

If you could make one change to the Sauk Rapids community, what would the addition or subtraction be and why? I would focus on enhancing access to mental health resources. This addition would involve more support groups and educational programs aimed at addressing mental health issues. By prioritizing mental awareness, we can create a more supportive community where everyone feels welcome. This change would not only improve the overall well-being of residents but also just make Sauk Rapids a more inclusive area.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? I spend most of my free time with my best friends or my family. From cooking or even going out for dinner, I just feel so much happier and at home with the people who have supported me throughout my whole life. I also enjoy working out or tanning and swimming, And, I used to play volleyball and softball, so whenever I get the chance to show off my skills, that’s also fun.

What or who encouraged you to become a Miss Sauk Rapids candidate? Sauk Rapids Princess Trinity encouraged me a lot throughout my process of just even thinking of applying. She has always been a warm welcome face within student council, and when I found out she was a Sauk Rapids Princess I went straight to asking her questions and she loved it. There was never a moment where she didn’t want to talk about it.



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Page 6C | Sauk Rapids Herald | Rapids River Days | Saturday, June 15, 2024
starts at Pleasantview Elementary School on Sixth
ends at Summit Avenue on First Street South. Parade
1. Sauk Rapids Chief of Police Perry Beise 2. Benton County Sheriff Troy Heck 3. American Legion Post 254 Color Guard 4. VFW Post 6992 Color Guard 5. Benton County Mounted Patrol 6. Voiture 415, 40 & 8 Train 7. WWII Kilroy Truck 8. Engine Company No. 2 9. Sauk Rapids Fire Department 10. Stearns-Benton Toward Zero Deaths 11. Collins Brothers Towing 12. Sauk Rapids-Rice Middle School Marching Band 13. Sauk Rapids Mayor Kurt Hunstiger and wife Ruth 14. Grand Marshal & 2024 Citizen of the Year David Rixe 15. Sauk Rapids-Rice Dance Team 16. 2024 Miss Sauk Rapids Royalty 17. 2023 Miss Sauk Rapids Royalty 18. Sauk Rapids-Rice Marching Storm 19. Rice Companies Inc. 20. Knife River Corporation 21. Texas Roadhouse 22. Sartell Middle School Marching Band 23. Crew Carwash 24. Little Caesars Pizza 25. O’Driscoll for House 13B / Sen. Jeff Howe 26. 2024-25 Miss Sartell Royalty 27. Sartell High School Marching Band 28. National Karate 29. Domino’s Pizza 30. Central MN Theatre 31. Ringsmuth Riders Unicycle Team 32. Owatonna High School Marching Band 33. Great River Rotary of Sauk Rapids & Sartell 34. Great River Federal Credit Union 35. Sauk Rapids-Rice Youth Basketball-Back Court Club 36. St. Cloud Toyota 37. Alexandria Marching Band 38. Ms. Melinda’s Dance Studio 39. Neighborhood Home Services 40. Sauk Rapids-Rice Storm Football Team 41. DG Homes & Remodeling Inc. 42. Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg Marching Saints 43. SOS Smart Organizing Solutions 44. Dooley’s Petroleum 45. Just For Kix Dance Studio 46. MN Truck Headquarters 47. Richfield Marching Spartans 48. Grey Face Rescue 49. Farmers & Merchants State Bank 50. Pizza Ranch
51. Storm Robotics 52. Milaca Middle School Marching Band 53. St. Cloud Financial Credit Union 54. MN Fishing Museum & Hall of Fame 55. North Crest Kids Activity Center 56. RE/MAX Results 57. Milaca High School Marching Wolves 58. Benton County ADA Dairy Princesses 59. Tri-County Humane Society 60. Elevate Dance Center 61. St. Cloud Orthopedics 62. Champlin Park Marching Rebels 63. Leighton Media 64. Bernick’s 65. Sauk Rapids Youth Hockey Assoc. & Riverblades 66. Unique Movers 67. Litchfield Marching Dragons 68. Ridgeview Place Assisted Living & Memory Care 69. Central MN K9 Foundation 70. Quad City Contracting 71. JOY Christian Center 72. Foley Ambassadors 73. Foley High School Marching Band 74. League of Women Voters of St. Cloud Area 75. Form EV - Electric Golf Carts 76. Advantage 1 Insurance Agency 77. Cotter Marching Band 78. Central MN Realty 79. Change The Culture 80. Cub Scouts Pack 8 81. C&L Distributing 82. Buffalo High School Marching Band-The Herd 83. Republic Services 84. Coborn’s Grocery Cart 85. Andy’s Towing Friday,
| 6 p.m. Rapids River Days Parade
June 21

Rolling in style

The Ringsmuth Riders do not need any more than one wheel each to stun Central Minnesota spectators.

The Waite Park-based unicycling group has amassed a fan base over nearly three decades of spinning, ducking, twisting and otherwise executing skillful maneuvers along parade routes.

Each summer is a performance season for the riders. In matching uniforms, the group demonstrates their talents in front of roaring crowds at community celebrations across the greater St. Cloud area, including the Rapids River Days Parade.

Often juggling and leading the pack on a particularly tall unicycle is Frank Ringsmuth, a 71-year-old with nearly five decades of experience balancing atop a single wheel.

Inspired by a scene from “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color,” one of Frank’s brothers, John, modified a bicycle to have one wheel and then mastered riding the contraption in the family’s garage.

Page 8C | Sauk Rapids Herald | Rapids River Days | Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Ringsmuth riders dazzle parade crowds with summer tradition PHOTO S U B MITTED Harrison Tynes (from left), Caroline Ringsmuth, Emily Ringsmuth, Josiah Sanchez, Tony Ringsmuth and Eli Tynes — hold hands while riding unicycles during the Rapids River Days Parade June 23, 2023, in Sauk Rapids. The group performs routines during parades. Ringsmuth page 9C

One after another, each of Frank’s six brothers accepted the challenge of learning how to unicycle.

“We have never been big spectators for sports,” Frank said of his family. “We would rather do it than watch; it sounded fun, and we did it.”

Motivated by sibling rivalry, 15-year-old Frank learned to ride the clunky modified bike in his backyard. Two hours later, he could travel about 40 feet without falling.

“It became a passion instantly,” Frank said. “I very quickly learned to ride all the way around our block, and pretty soon, I was riding a mile. One day, I wondered if it was possible to ride backward, so I started trying.”

About three months later, Frank confidently grasped the skill and unicycling has been a part of his life ever since. He passed on his unique talent to all six of his children: Angela, Erik, Christina, Emily, Nick and Maggie.

“In 1991, I got the idea that my

kids should learn how to get started,” Frank said. “I showed my daughter, Angie, how. It took her a couple of weeks until she could ride.”

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page 8C
Ringsmuth page 10C PHOTO SUBMITTED The original Ringsmuth Riders — Phil (front, from left) Angela, Thomas, Joanne, Eddy and Erik; (back, from left) Jeremy, Simon, Peter, Frank, Tony, Steven, John and David — gather with their unicycles June 16, 1996, in Waite Park. PHOTO BY HANS LAMMEMAN Erik (from left), Frank and Emily Ringsmuth execute a skill May 22 on the street in front of their family home in Waite Park. Frank taught all six of his children to unicycle.
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at Home - Farm - Business - Auto - Life & More! Tri-County Insurance insuranceaves.com 320.968.6496 Your Road to Insurance Made Simple. Although Frank’s wife, Laura, never confidently learned to ride a unicycle, she said she appreciated watching her children master the talent. “They looked forward to it every summer; the fact that my kids were involved was huge,” Laura said. Ringsmuth from page 9C Ringsmuth page 11C
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PHOTO BY HANS LAMMEMAN Emily, Frank and Erik Ringsmuth hold hands while riding down a street May 22 in Waite Park. The Ringsmuth Riders participate in about five parades each summer, including the Rapids River Days Parade.


from page 10C

“I watched the parades with the younger kids who couldn’t ride.”

After the first official year of participating in parades as the Ringsmuth Riders, Frank and his children began hosting classes for interested students at practically no cost.

“In the fall of 1996, I started weekly unicycling in the gym,” Frank said. “Every Monday night, we would meet in the St. Joseph Catholic School gym. There would be anywhere from 10 to 25 kids coming to learn how to ride unicycles. We would practice skills and play games like capture the flag.”

The summer classes returned annually for 25 years, spreading the love for unicycling to an estimated 120 students until the coronavirus pandemic permanently halted lessons.

Despite the unicycle classes ending, the Ringsmuth Riders continued their iconic parade performances, even when the parades themselves temporarily stopped in 2020, according to Erik.

“A few of us went to a friend’s neighborhood on July 4 and rode around the culde-sac in a mini fake parade,” Erik said of the summer immediately following coronavirus pandemicrelated lockdowns.

The riders perform several routines along parade routes: the cinnamon twist, the fold, the double rainbow, the pretzel and the radar. They typically participate in parades in one to three groups of five to seven people.

“When a new routine is created, it is usually on the fly right before a parade when we are practicing our other routines,” Erik said. “They are usually spontaneous.”

Emily, a kindergarten teacher at Mississippi Height Elementary School in Sauk Rapids, acknowledged unicycling is not an everyday activity for most children, but she is grateful it was a Ringsmuth tradition.

“Growing up, it was something we did when we got old enough,” Emily said. …

“Every week, we went to unicycle practice, and in the summers, we rode in parades.”

The Ringsmuths said they often

hear spectators in parade crowds say, “I could never do that.” That is one sentiment they all disagreed with.

“Almost anyone can learn,” Frank said. “Out of almost 120 kids that came through our club, there was one or two that did not put in the effort to learn.”

The parade group now usually consists of Frank, his children and their cousins, and the occasional neighbor or student from the unicycle classes. They plan to continue performing across Central Minnesota each summer as the Ringsmuth Riders for the foreseeable future.

“I am proud that we can do something that people really enjoy watching,” Frank said. “We have made a bit of a name for ourselves in Central Minnesota.”

Sauk Rapids Herald | Rapids River Days | Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Page 11C STEVEN V. BAKER, LTD. CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANTS 1287 2nd St. N., Ste. 201 P.O. Box 215 Sauk Rapids, MN 320.253.5175 • 800.252.5175 www.svbltd.com Steven Baker CPA, Corina Schlichting CPA Wishing everyone a fun and safe summer!
PHOTO SUBMITTED Nick Ringsmuth (from left), Joshua Ringsmuth, Matthias Langley, Maggie Ringsmuth, Evan Tynes and Julia Tynes perform a routine they call “a fold” June 23, 2023, during last year’s Rapids River Days Parade in Sauk Rapids. The Ringsmuth Riders formally started in 1996.
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Ringsmuth holds his grandson, Finn, while riding a unicycle in front of his home in Waite Park.
learned to ride the unicycle at age

the river rock Ready to to

Swamp Donkey set to bring show to Sauk Rapids

James Urick was a drummer in a country band and, to put it bluntly, hated it.

“I loathed it and wanted to get out of it,” Urick said. “Because I’m a rock ‘n’ roll guy.”

His desire to form a rock ‘n’ roll band eventually led four Iron Range-based guys who did not really know each other to form Swamp Donkey. The cover band plays familiar rock songs from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s and entertains crowds mostly in northern Minnesota.

Swamp Donkey will bring their act south, appearing as the headline band at Rock the Riverside Thursday, June 20, at The Clearing in Sauk Rapids as part of a kickoff to the annual citywide Rapids River Days celebration. The Soupbones are the opening band.

The band started to come together when Urick and Robert Lieby met by chance at the party of a mutual friend. As their interest in forming a band grew, they soon connected with local musicians Luke Heikkila and Cat Jackson, and Swamp Donkey was officially born.

“Robert, Luke and I kind of plotted along until we could find a bass player that fit with what we were doing,” Urick said. “Luke is the center point of the whole deal, and when we finally got Cat into the fold, things just kind of mushroomed from there.”

Heikkila handles lead vocals, guitar and also keyboard. Lieby plays lead guitar and Jackson bass guitar.

Music-lovers can expect to hear popular songs from the

likes of Collective Soul, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Metallica and Mötley Crüe, along with more obscure songs from bands such as Cracker.

“It’s quite a diverse selection we play because, you know, every member just picks their favorites and there’s really no vetoes from any of us in the group,” Urick said. “Everyone just kind of goes with what we like and that’s the way it works. This lineup of songs just has really been solid, and it has kind of taken off for us.”

Urick, who lives on Lake Vermillion in Tower and works at Husky Spring in Virginia, said the audience should expect an overload of fun when Swamp Donkey takes the stage along the banks of the Mississippi River.

Swamp Donkey page 13C

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF SWAMP DONKEY Members of the rock band Swamp Donkey are Luke Heikkila (front, from left) and James Urick; Cat Jackson (back, from left) and Robert Lieby. The band is the headline act at Rock the Riverside Thursday, June 20, at The Clearing in Sauk Rapids, as part of Rapids River Days.

Swamp Donkey from

“The best and simplest way to put it is we’re just a barrage of rock,” Urick said. “We’re like a freight train. We just keep rolling. Luke likes to say we bring the

The name Swamp Donkey raises obvious questions. Urick laughed when asked about its origin.

“The name has several connotations,” Urick said. “One of them is, up here, a lot of people refer to deer and moose as swamp donkeys because they’re so prevalent. I’ll just leave it at that.”

All four band members, Urick said, have “real jobs,” so they only play a few times a month. Their calendar is full for the next year.

He does not recall their first official gig, but fondly recalls an early appearance at the Vermillion Club in Tower, which Urick said was voted a top 10 dive bar in the country.

Swamp Donkey page 14C

page 12C

Sauk Rapids Herald | Rapids River Days | Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Page 13C
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PHOTOS COURTESY OF SWAMP DONKEY (Left) Cat Jackson plays bass guitar in the Iron Range-based rock band Swamp Donkey. The band plays a few times a month, mostly in northern Minnesota. (Above) Luke Heikkila plays guitar, keyboard and is the lead vocalist for the rock band Swamp Donkey. The cover band plays rock ‘n’ roll songs from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

Swamp Donkey

from page 13C

Urick said both Heikkila and he have family in the Sauk Rapids area, which sparked their interest in playing at Rock the Riverside. He has seen the scenic venue and cannot wait to take the stage.

“I like to think that we just projected energy, and it feeds on itself,” Urick said. “You know, people see us having fun and it’s kind of contagious, right? We aren’t doing this for the money. We’re just doing it because it’s a passion and because we love it. A lot of bands say that, but at this age there are many other things that we could be doing, but we choose to do this because music is just a passion. We can’t wait to get there.”

Page 14C | Sauk Rapids Herald | Rapids River Days | Saturday, June 15, 2024
(Left) Robert
plays lead
for the rock
The band has been entertaining audiences in Minnesota since 2020.
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James Urick, of Tower, is the drummer for the rock band Swamp Donkey. They are the headline performer at Rock the Riverside Thursday, June 20, at The Clearing in Sauk Rapids.

The following women have served the Sauk Rapids community as queens, princesses or ambassadors during the last 58 years.

1966 Sandra Skeate; 1967 Donna Braun; 1968 Pat Riedeman; 1969 Susan Ackerman; 1970 Barb Nelson; 1971 Rosealine Franto; 1972 Vicki Mattson; 1973 Sue Zwick, Virginia Braun and Patricia Hommerding; 1974 Sharyn Thompson, Kris Stueve and Roberta Hommerding; 1975 Patricia Maier, Kay Ribich and Terree Keehr; 1976 Kathy Stromwall; 1977 Bonnie Jones, Becky Rhode and Penny Yozamp; 1978 Robin Rhode, Sherri Trushenski and Robin Johnson; 1979 Jean Braun, Colleen Reinert and Kim Maroney; 1980 Randi Claasen, Terri Kosloske and Marion Borgert. (No pageant took place from 1981 through 2003.) 2004-05 Candace Leyk, Megan Meyer and Emily Becker; 2005-06 Susan Meinz, Kelsey Moehle and Randi Carlson; 2006-07 Cassie Martin, Rachel Brewster and Kaelynn Kampa; 2007-08 Brittany Tischmak, Krista Corrigan and Ashley Bueckers; 2008-09 Jana Prow, Jenny Deering and Jessica Dingmann; 2009-10 Megan Gustafson, Shyla Inderieden and Kelsey Miller; 2010-11 Abby Fleck, Marie Pflipsen and Morgan Muehlbauer; 2011-12 Candyce Thompson, Ashley Bukowski and Kelly Elness; 2012-13 Tiffany Smith, Bethany Zwilling and Carissa Gaffy; 2013-14 Alisha Houdek, Ali Mohr and Lindsay Massman; 2014-15 Kayla Keller, Kaitlin Janson and Chelsey Haffner; 2015-16 Nikki Bukowski, Kelsey Christensen and Tana Hendrickson; 2016-17 Sydney Burk, Clo Meyer and Allyson Walz; 2017-18 Brooklyn Harren; 2018-19 Jenna Bukowski, Morgan Weinand and Anna Walz; 2019-20 and 2020-21 Morgan Thomson, Kaeleigh Rainer and Anna Lucas; 2021-22 Taylor Sidla, Addison Bemboom and Chelsey Vogel; 2022-23 Maggie Fernholz, Maycee Britz and Saige Moliga; and 2023-24 Brynn Molitor, Trinity Maki and Amber Konietzko

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