As a first-time volunteer in 2016, Wayne Ellingson remembers seeing the Aquatennial represented in a parade when he was a kid back home is Southwestern Minnesota,
"From that moment, I wanted to know more about what the Aquatennial and what Minneapolis was all about."
Since then he has enjoyed watching the parades and Aquatennial events over the years. When his good friend, Brian Thomas May, became Captain in 2015, Wayne became interested in learning more about what is involved behind the scenes, "I became friends with various AAO members and felt a real kinship with those I met."
How have you been involved in the AAO?
In 2015 I became a sustaining AAO member and stated I was interested in being a volunteer. I was honored to be asked to volunteer as a driver for Aqua week. This was an extremely rewarding experience and one that I hope to continue doing, as well as looking forward to what ever volunteer and supporting opportunities may be presented.
Why do you continue to be involved in with the AAO?
I feel the AAO represents an extraordinary body of people that share a sincere passion for Minneapolis and the communities the Aquatennial visit. It is the sprit, energy and commitment of my fellow AAO members, that I am proud of and am excited to be a part of. I feel the AAO has many years of vital duties to perform, and I wish to be a continuing part of it.
What is your favorite aspect/event/memory of Aquatennial Week?
The Coronation. That's the moment when the countless hours of dedication, planning, and yes, stressing all come together in what was a magical time. The days leading up to Coronation were rewarding in so many ways, as well. Getting to know the current Ambassadors, the comradery and moments shared when driving them to the various functions were all pretty special. When I drove the current Ambassadors to the Coronation, I felt good in that I was a part of their magical week and had hoped I made a bit of impact and they concluded their active roles for the year. Seeing the new Ambassadors emerge from the concert hall with excitement and energy was uplifting. Nothing compares to seeing the faces of the new ambassadors seeing their names on the sides of vehicles for the first time.
What are your hopes for the Aquatennial and/or the AAO?
For the Aquatennial itself I hope to see a return to some of the traditions I grew up with. More interactive events that bring the people of the Twin Cities out like the Milk Carton Boat races, sand castle contests, etc. For the AAO-its continuing legacy of support, not only during Aqua week, but the year-long commitments the Ambassadors are asked to be a part of, as well. This is not possible without good, committed people serving, but also good financial stability. I hope for both in the coming years.
As I complete my first year as an AAO member, I look forward to many years of commitment, service and support.
Now that I have learned and saw first hand the positive impact the AAO has on the community, the visiting dignitaries and most importantly- the dozens of candidates, I felt a personal need to get involved.
Wayne lives in Minneapolis and is a Staff Accountant. He enjoys photography, attending Minnesota Twins games, skydiving, studying local history, and volunteering.