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Lions at 100: The eyes have it

Justin Neufeldt (left), artist Dan Wiemer and Red Wing Lions "Spectacles" committee chairman Paul Drotos determine the appropriate width of the sculpture at Neufeldt's shop on April 4, 2017. Photo by Ruth Nerhaugen1 / 3
Dan Wiemer created an artistic rendering of “Spectacles,” a public sculpture which will be unveiled June 25 in Colvill Park. Photo by Paul Drotos2 / 3
Justin Neufeldt welds the bridge of the giant steel eyeglasses. Photo by Paul Drotos3 / 3

A "mountain" of more than 40,000 pairs of eyeglasses, free vision testing and prize drawings for free glasses will be among highlights of "Spectacles" in the Park on Sunday, June 25.

The Red Wing Lions Club is commemorating the 100th anniversary of Lions Clubs International with the unveiling of a public sculpture of a giant pair of eyeglasses.

The art work and related activities reflect the organization's commitment to vision and to service ever since Helen Keller asked Lions to be "Knights of the Blind in the crusade against darkness" back in 1925.

The event is planned as a community gathering, club President Todd Otteson said. There will be food for sale and live music by the Keynotes from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the picnic shelter between the Universal Playground and the Mississippi River.

The sculpture and other activities will be nearby, between the playground at the parking turnaround.

The unveiling program is set for 1:30 p.m. People are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.

"Spectacles" Committee Chairman Paul Drotos will share the story of the sculpture and present it to the city; Mayor Sean Dowse will accept it.

Two key people who will be recognized are Justin Neufeldt, who manufactured the sculpture, and Dan Wiemer, artist consultant.

Also speaking briefly will be Past District Gov. Dudley Parsons of Rochester, who will explain how the donated eyeglasses will be delivered to developing countries and distributed to people who need them. He personally has made several trips to the Dominican Republic with glasses.

The glasses that will be displayed at Colvill Park were collected by Lions clubs throughout the multiple district that includes all of Minnesota and part of Canada. The bulk of them came from southeastern Minnesota, thanks to efforts by area clubs, and from Red Wing in particular, including Twin Bluff Middle School students.

Each pair will later be washed and sorted, prescription checked and boxed for redistribution.

"Spectacles" represents all the glasses Lions clubs have collected for redistribution — but in a big way. The powder-coated steel sculpture is almost 12-feet wide and 12-feet long, with 4-foot tall lens openings.

From noon to 3 p.m. Parsons also will have a booth in the park, as will Past District Gov. Joe Schlichenmeyer of St. Charles, Minn., representing the Lions Centennial and Legacy Projects.

People who bring eyeglasses to the park or donate to the Lions Vision Foundation that day will receive a ticket for a drawing.

Prizes include major gift certificates from Pearle Vision, Midwest Vision Centers and Struss Optical, plus prizes donated by Red Wing Area Seniors and the Pottery Association, and a pair of tickets to an upcoming concert sponsored by the Cannon Falls Lions.

The drawing will be at 5 p.m.; people need not be present to win.

Vision testing will be available for all ages. A new Lions project, KidSight USA, has obtained equipment to screen children ages 6 months to 6 years.

Rhonda Hayes of the Red Wing Lions and Lions District 5M1 Coordinator Cindy Bushman of Stewartville, Minn., will offer screening from around 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pearle Vision of Red Wing will offer vision checks for others.

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