By Elizabeth Sias
Community members of all ages will soon be able to enjoy a singing sensation right in their own neighborhood.
Anita McColley, recently crowned Klondike Kate 2011, will be performing at 7 p.m. on May 27 for the Cambridge Senior Activity Center’s upcoming Friday Happenings event.
McColley grew up in Isanti and has been singing in front of an audience since the age of 5. She sang for her local church, but had her first lead in her elementary school’s musical, the Gingerbread Boy.
When her family moved to a rural farm in Isanti County, she transferred from Cambridge-Isanti District Schools to St. Francis, where she joined the choir and traveled with the group to Scandinavia and Russia, inciting her love for travel.
Since then, McColley said she has performed for a variety of audiences ranging from church masses to schools to a human rights campaign. She was the lead singer of a local band for six years, but ultimately decided to leave for the opportunity to travel.
“Singing for me has opened so many doors,” she said. “I’ve always had the desire to entertain.”
She has called South Minneapolis her home for the last seven years, and works for cable company Midcontinent Communications in Edina, Minn., in the programing department.
It was there McColley received the encouragement to apply to compete at the St. Paul Winter Carnival for the title of Klondike Kate 2011.
Every year they hold the competition, she said, and every year it would pass and the chairman of the board at Midcontinent Communications would tell McColley they crowned a new Kate and say ‘you’d make a good Kate!’
“I finally decided I was going to beat him to the punch,” she said. “I turned in my application and said ‘you’ll never believe what I did this morning.’ It was fun to have that banter with him for four or five years.”
Seven people competed for the title, with the competition including several elimination rounds.
“The competition was tough,” McColley said. “But it as awesome. I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything.”
The title has afforded her the opportunity to travel around the state with the royal family and former Klondike Kates, visiting sponsors of the carnival, nursing homes, schools, nonprofits and more.
Having been raised in the area, she’s looking forward to singing in Cambridge, a place she said holds many happy memories for her. And she can’t wait to share her vocal talents and passion for singing with people she grew up with.
“It makes my day when I can share something that for years I took for granted, and now I share it with people and they smile and that makes me very happy,” McColley said. “Singing is a wonderful gift and to share it just makes me feel like a better person at the end of the day.”
Friday Happenings at Cambridge Senior Activity Center (SACS):
The senior center’s monthly Friday Happenings started a number of years ago when staff thought it would be a good idea to have events in the evenings as well as during the day.
They chose Friday because it’s a day seniors are not typically very busy, Senior Activity Center Director Fran Strodtman said.
“The big thing is getting to socialize,” she said. “That’s what they really like.”
She emphasized that the events are not just for seniors, but for anyone in the community. Refreshments are served during the entertainment and the center does not charge for admittance, but requests a free will donation.
“We want to market what kind of activities SACS has and hopefully get some people who’ve never been here interested in coming,” Strodtman said.
McColley’s performance will be the first of several fun summer events planned for the senior center. The last Friday in June will feature a performance by the Abraham Sisters, a trio of women who have been singing locally for years, and a block party is planned for August.