Post date: Mar 2, 2016 6:22:00 AM

The HSHS Alumni Association, with assistance from both the City of Hot Springs and Kel Lorenz, has completed the restoration and facelift of the Kidney Springs bandstand.

The project began three years ago when the Alumni went to the City and received approval to redo the badly deteriorated bandstand at an estimated cost of $20,000. The Alumni offered to manage the project and pay 50% if the City would pay the other half.

The Alumni was interested in this project since the bandstand was the site of many former school pep rallies. The pep rally would begin when the entire student body, following the HSHS marching band under the direction of Gail Hilgenberg, arrived at Kidney Springs Park after snake dancing their way down the old viaduct from the high school. In those days before artificial noisemakers were banned from the stands, a cowbell was awarded to the class who, in the opinion of the teacher-judges was the loudest in performing the B-I-S-O-N cheer. This was an honor not taken lightly and the members of the winning class were privileged students for the week.

Kel Lorenz, the cement contractor and a HSHS graduate, offered to upgrade the material used and provide a portion of his labor as a donation to the Alumni Association. Lorenz began the cement work in the summer of 2007 when the weather permitted the multiple step process to proceed and it was completed in the fall. His contribution more than doubled the value of the project.

In addition to the cement work done on the bandstand itself, the pipe railing around the top edge was repaired and painted and electrical power was added to the bandstand that will accommodate modern electrical equipment.

The restoration was dedicated to Gail Hilgenberg, the music director at HSHS for many years. During his tenure as a respected member of the HSHS faculty, he developed the HSHS band into an organization that was the envy of all Black Hills towns. The new stone marker notes his contribution to music in Hot Springs and also corrects the dates relating to John Mueller, the City Band Director who was responsible for the erection of the original bandstand.

The Alumni will complete the final phase of the project next spring when the area around the restored bandstand will be landscaped.

All of the HSHS Alumni who contributed to make this project a success can feel very proud. You are invited to visit the bandstand the next time you are in town.