More water tower mugs to hit shelves

Mugs will be available for $15 at Visit Brainerd, 706 Laurel St.

Another shipment of custom water tower mugs will soon be for sale at Visit Brainerd. Proceeds will go toward fixing the tower. Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

After making a profit of roughly $1,500, Brainerd’s water tower committee will order another 150 custom water tower mugs to sell.

Originally ordered in conjunction with Valentine’s Day, the bright red mugs feature a white water tower inside a heart. The first 150 ordered are sold out, but after getting a request from someone for 20 mugs, the committee decided to do another order.

“It just seems like a no-brainer,” Mayor Dave Badeaux, council liaison to the committee, said during a meeting Wednesday, Feb. 17. “If we end up with extra mugs, there’s potential for us to sell them off to other places as well, but I don’t think we’ll end up in that scenario.”

The mugs will soon be on sale for $15 at Visit Brainerd, 706 Laurel St.

The funds from the sales will join the more than $34,000 the committee has already raised for the historic water tower’s restoration and preservation. That money will first be used on a new roof for the tower. The water tower bowl had chunks of stucco falling from it in recent years, along with water damage to the bowl at the top. Thanks to a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society and matching funds from the city council, plans for the roof are in the works and should be completed later this year. With designs in hand, the committee can then get an estimated cost for the work and hopefully gather more funds to pay for the repairs, which could cost more than $1 million, though the final price tag is not yet known.


The group hopes its new status as a 501(c)(3) will help encourage more larger donations, which will now be tax deductible.

Fundraising ideas

The group brainstormed fundraising ideas during its meeting Wednesday, with the top idea being some sort of a food truck event this summer. Badeaux said there could be a fee for food trucks to participate — which would bring in money for the water tower — and the event could be made into a competition of sorts between establishments, with a prize for the winner.

The group will likely do an event at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds later this year as well, with members of the fair board approaching the committee about allowing the use of the land and facilities for a fundraiser. What that event will look like is still up in the air, though committee members have discussed the idea of live music.

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Historic Brainerd water tower Wednesday, April 8, 2020, at sunset. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Getting involved

The water tower committee continues to seek more members. Those who are interested in helping to restore the tower and save it from destruction are invited to join. Applications are available at Brainerd City Hall or online at .

The committee meets at 6 p.m. the third Wednesday of every month in the second floor conference room at city hall, with the next meeting March 17. Meetings are open to the public.


Donations for the water tower can be made online via the city’s website at . A 3.61% service fee will be applied to all donations.
Cash and check donations can be dropped off at, or sent to Brainerd Community Action, 321 S. Seventh St., Suite 105, Brainerd, MN 56401. Checks can be made out to Brainerd Community Action, and all donations should include a note to earmark the funds to save the water tower.

If the committee does not ultimately raise enough money to save the tower, donations of $250 or more will be eligible for refunds. The rest of the funds raised will go to Brainerd Restoration.

For more information, visit or follow the Save the Historic Brainerd Water Tower page on Facebook.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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