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Farmington community provided a special parade for an Empire Township resident

Jacob Albeck hugged Vikings mascot Viktor during a parade held in his honor Saturday. The parade was part of a Make-A-Wish Foundation gift that also included a trip to Sunday's Vikings game. For video from the parade, go to / 2

Before last weekend, Jacob Albeck was a fan of parades only in theory. He liked marching bands, his mother, Michelle, said, and he liked loud noises and candy. He was a fan of the component parts of any good parade, in other words, but because of a rare genetic condition called nonketotic hyperglycinema, the 16-year-old Empire Township boy had never actually seen one in person.

After Saturday, he might be eager for the next one, although he's not likely to ever find another parade quite like the one that wound through his neighborhood. That one, organized by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, was just one part of a wish that also put Jacob and his family into a suite for Sunday's Vikings game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Saturday's parade was never meant to be as big as it was. Michelle and her husband, Jeff, expected a few golf carts and some family members. They passed out flyers to their neighbors to let them know traffic might be tied up for about 10 minutes.

Just a modest kickoff to Sunday's main event.

They didn't know how things had grown. The more people found out about the parade, it seemed, the more they wanted to be involved. That's why Saturday's parade featured five Farmington fire trucks, a squad car and other vehicles from the Dakota County Sheriff's Department, a float from a local Cub Scout pack, even the Farmington High School marching band.

Katelyn Broermann is the Make-A-Wish volunteer who organized the parade. She was amazed at the way people stepped forward to help.

"It's been pretty easy," she said. "The (sheriff's) department contacted me and they went above and beyond. Same with the fire department," Broermann said. "A lot of people, I would say in general, went above and beyond."

Sheriff's sergeant Pat Enderlein got involved after representatives from Empire Township called looking for help shutting down the streets. Traffic control wasn't a problem, but Enderlein saw a chance to do more.

"It's a great opportunity to help this young man out," he said. "He's loved parades and always wanted to get to a parade and unfortunately he hasn't been able to.... This is an opportunity to bring a parade to him."

Thanks to the sheriff's department, Jacob's parade featured a squad car, an air boat and the Dakota County MAAG team's armored vehicle. The department also brought an ATV, and Jacob got a ride when the parade was done.

FHS band director Erin Holmes was also eager to get involved once she learned about the parade. She knew who Jacob was because he sometimes stands outside her classroom to listen to the music. She and some of the school's other music teachers have played in Jacob's classroom.

Holmes and band director Jeff Gottwig sent requests all over the country for the sheet music to Skol Vikings, the team's official fight song. Members of the marching band learned it specifically for the parade because Jacob loves to hear it after the Vikings score.

"It's always great to do something for members of our school and our peers," Holmes said. "Part of the band's job is to reach out to others and provide something more than just a concert. We want to do something that makes people really excited about music in general."

At the Albeck home, all of that remained a mystery. On Saturday morning, Michelle Albeck still expected a modest event.

"My first ringer was this morning when a stranger came up to the door and said, "Would you like some candy for your parade?' Michelle said. "I said, 'Who are you?' I didn't know so many people would know about it."

People turned out in large numbers for the parade, many dressed in Vikings gear. Friends, family and neighbors lined the street to watch, and after the parade made one pass in front of his house Jacob climbed onto a float meant just for him and rode in a place of honor.

For his parents, it was an amazing moment.

"It's very heartwarming, because you just don't know," Michelle said. "We stay home a lot and we're not out in the community. To kind of have everybody come to us is just so awesome."

The parade was Jacob's first, but it might not be his last.

"He really had a blast," Michelle said. "He might need a little nap."

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606