Retiree uses Boilermaker skills for community projects

Story submitted by KayDell Super,
Middle River, Minn., Community Club President

Melvin Wappula takes a seat on the stage he designed and helped build for his home town.

L-647’s Wappula builds motorized picnic table, stage

WHEN MELVIN WAPPULA retired as a member of Local 647, Minneapolis, his boilermaker skills definitely did not end! He combined his physical skills with his creativity to liven up the streets of his home town, Middle River, Minn.

Melvin gets his project ideas in many places. His first idea came from wintering in Florida. While there, he saw a motorized picnic table, a party on wheels, so to speak, and decided to build one himself. He made several improvements, adding a cooler for beverages, a grill on the front (not shown), and an umbrella — a Cadillac version of the original.

Everyone was amazed when Melvin’s table won the “overall entry” award in the annual Goose Festival Parade that first year. Since that time, the traveling picnic table has provided numerous fun-filled rides through the streets. It even served as the Grand Marshal’s vehicle during the 2013 festival.

To avoid borrowing a portable stage from a neighboring community each year, the Middle River Community Club asked Melvin to build one. He designed the stage, and, with the help of his son, Richard, also a member of Local 647, welded the frame. The 10x20 stage has a 6x20 fold-down front deck and a 6x20 retractable roof. Melvin donated not only time, but materials, as well. He enlisted the help of carpenters for the finish work, the local school art club to design the back wall, and carpet layers to complete the floor.

The community is truly astonished at the top-notch quality of the stage and delighted at the opportunities that its ownership will present in future entertainment for many years to come.