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'Mary's Tunnel' is a wintry beacon of beauty in Moorhead's Viking Ship Park

Attraction named for Moorhead city employee who died in November.

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Mary's Tunnel is located at Viking Ship Park behind the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead and features 50,000 lights that bring joy to visitors looking for a winterscape photo opportunity. The tunnel is named in honor of city of Moorhead employee Mary Schmidtt who died unexpectedly last November at the age of 54. The lights for the tunnel came from Moorhead City Manager Dan Mahli, who acquired the lights after hearing that they were no longer going to be used to adorn trees in downtown Fargo. Mahli stored the lights in his own garage until they could be displayed in what is now a family fun 60-foot canopy that lights up the night from dusk 'til dawn. David Samson / The Forum
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MOORHEAD, Minn. — A winter marvel has come to sparkling life in downtown Moorhead.

"Mary's Tunnel," a 60-foot canopy adorned with 50,000 small, but very bright lights, is in Viking Ship Park behind Moorhead's Hjemkomst Center.

The glittering walkway is named in honor of Mary Schmitt, a city of Moorhead employee who died unexpectedly last November at the age of 54.

Lights for the tunnel, part of the Fargo-Moorhead area's Frostival celebration, which runs through early February, came from Moorhead City Manager Dan Mahli, who acquired the lights after hearing that they were no longer going to be used to adorn trees in downtown Fargo.

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Mary Schmitt
Mary and Kevin Schmitt. Special to The Forum.

Mahli stored the lights in his own garage until they could be incorporated into what has become a family friendly attraction that lights up downtown Moorhead's night sky from dusk until dawn.

Mary's husband, Kevin Schmitt, said his wife's boss at the Neighborhood Services Department called and invited him to come out and see how it turned out.

"I went down there and it was so beautiful that it made me smile for the first time," Schmitt said.

Schmitt went through a serious health challenge himself recently and he said Mary was beside him throughout the entire ordeal.

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50,000 lights shine in the night for Frostival fun in Moorhead's Viking Park. David Samson / The Forum

When his wife became ill herself, it came on suddenly and she died shortly after doctors discovered a very large tumor in her brain, according to Schmitt, who said the tunnel of lights is a beautiful way to honor his wife's memory.

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Asked if he's heard the site has been the scene of at least one marriage proposal, Schmitt said he indeed has.

"I think it's awesome," he said.

More info

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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