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Meredith Willson’s 119th birthday observed with ceremony at Elwood-St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Mason City (VIDEO)


MASON CITY — Students from Mason City and Newman Catholic High Schools were at Elmwood-St. Joseph’s Cemetery at midday on Tuesday to honor the 119th birthday of Meredith Willson, who was best known for writing the book, music and lyrics for the 1957 hit Broadway musical “The Music Man”. The students placed flowers on Willson’s memorial on the recently renovated family plot in the cemetery.

Newman band king Jack Barrett says, “I think it’s super special to Mason City and Newman. He wrote the fight songs for both schools, and it’s super important  for Mason City history with Band Festival and all that, and him kind of orchestrating all that type of stuff, so I think it’s super important that we remember him. He’s a really good composer. Music Man is a fun musical, and he has a lot of history around here. I think that’s super important to me and should be super important to everybody.”

Britta Elsbernd is the Mason City High band queen and says it’s been interesting to learn more about Willson’s history.  “It’s always really interesting every time we hear that he won the award for the biggest baby in some year, that’s a really interesting fact that I don’t think many people know.  I also think it’s interesting every time to learn about the different musicals that he wrote besides The Music Man because we hear about The Music Man but he actually did a lot more than that.”

When born in 1902, Willson was 14 pounds, which was an all-time state record at that point.

A celebration is also being held Tuesday night at Music Man Square where The Music Man will be shown with refreshments including birthday cake being served.

You can see a video of Tuesday’s ceremony by clicking here


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