Monday, May. 2nd, 2016

Shaun Johnson Big Band Ready for You to 'Experience' Rescheduled Gig (May 3)

If you were disappointed when the Shaun Johnson Big Band Experience’s gig at the State Theatre was canceled last month – or if you’re simply a lover of a contemporary spin on that swingin’ Big Band sound – then perk up your ears! The Emmy-winning singer-songwriter and his band, who canceled their April 14 concert because of illness, are set to take the stage at the State (for real this time) on Tuesday, May 3, at 7:30pm. Don’t worry: The tickets you had for the April 14 show are still good (plus seats are still available if you didn’t get them the first time around).

You may recognize Johnson as a member of the Minnesota-based a capella trio Tonic Sol-fa, but the Big Band Experience connects the tenor with an eight-member big band that includes guys who’ve backed the likes of Aretha Franklin and Johnny Mathis (so you know they’re legit). According to Johnson’s website, “His vision was to create a contemporary big band sound with a pop flair, honoring legends like Frank Sinatra, with a nod to Michael Bublé, while giving the music his own twist.” Considering the sparkling reviews Shaun and his band have collected, apparently he’s succeeded. To learn more about the band, check out www.bigbandexperience.com, or to get tickets (which range from $15-$25), go to www.eauclairearts.com.

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A Big Home for Little Critters

CREATURE FEATURE. The new small animal building and visitors’ center at Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls is expected ot be completed by Memorial Day.
CREATURE FEATURE. The new small animal building and visitors’ center at Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls is expected to be completed by Memorial Day.

By the end of the month, the Irvine Park Zoo’s smaller animals – and the people who visit them – will have new digs.

Construction is wrapping up on a new small-animal building and welcome center at Chippewa Falls’ Irvine Park, which city parks director Dick Hebert hopes will be open by Memorial Day. Overall, the project will cost about $3.95 million, and more than $3 million is already in hand, Hebert says. Only $100,000 is coming from the city, while the rest is from donations.

The building replaced the previous small-animal building and aviary, which had deteriorated after more than 50 years of use. The prior building made it difficult to properly view and care for animals: The concrete enclosures were long and narrow, and animals were out of sight in the cold weather.

“I remember taking the volunteers who served on the capital campaign through the old building, and after they went through it the comment was, ‘We are done talking about why we need a new building,’ ” Hebert recalled.

“It’s going to be a beautiful facility. During our walk-throughs so far, people are very excited and amazed. They’re very impressed.”– Dick Hebert, Chippewa Falls parks director

By contrast, the new 13,500-square-foot building will provide larger, more comfortable quarters for both animals and humans. The exhibit areas will be taller and wider, making it easier to see the animals inside (and easier to clean up after them); the aviary will feature screened exterior exhibits; and the facility will be better suited to transferring animals, which will mean less stress when the veterinarian comes.

And the new quarters will keep unwanted animals out: The old building was a haven for mice, Hebert says.

Meanwhile, the welcome center will greet visitors to the park – from kids on class trips to senior citizens – and provide an informational area, a store for souvenirs and snacks, a rentable meeting and party room, and an area to display artifacts. While the exact nature of that display hasn’t been determined, it will likely showcase the history of the park and its namesake, 19th-century lumberman William Irvine.

“It’s going to be a beautiful facility,” Hebert says. “During our walk-throughs so far, people are very excited and amazed. They’re very impressed.”

The new building is the culmination of a decade of zoo improvements, which has included the construction of larger, more natural living quarters for the zoo’s bears and big cats.

Once construction is complete, the small animals and birds – who returned to their permanent owner, an animal broker, when the old building was demolished last year – will settle into their new residences. The new building will feature six animal exhibits, each of which will house two to three animals, and four bird exhibits, which will be home to two to five birds each. Because the animals come from a broker, Hebert isn’t completely sure what species visitors will see when the building opens, but in the past the small animal exhibit has featured raccoons, porcupines, and foxes as well as more exotic creatures such as capuchin monkeys and coatimundis.

Hebert expects the new building to attract more people to the already popular park; in fact, he says, the construction already has drawn curious visitors. And if you come to check out the small animals’ new home, don’t forget to take a gander at the domestic creatures in the petting zoo (which also opens Memorial Day), as well as the tigers, bears, and hyenas in the large-animal exhibit and the elk and bison who are pastured at the park all year long.

To learn more about Irvine Park and the capital campaign, visit www.chippewafalls-wi.gov/pr.

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Friday, Apr. 29th, 2016

11 Sconnie Fun Facts for Your Next Trivia Night

How much do you know about Wisconsin? Living here is one thing, but our great state has some pretty cool trivia. How many of these cool Wisconsin facts did you already know?

Green Bay's East River, just one of the many miles of Wisconsin water
Green Bay's East River
1. Wisconsin's rivers and streams are longer than you might think

If you laid all of Wisconsin's rivers and streams end to end they would be 26,767 miles long, almost 2,000 miles more than the Earth's circumference! It's amazing that all fits inside our mitten shaped state.

2. Wisconsin has how many lakes?

Keeping with our massive waterways, Wisconsin is home to approximately 16,692 lakes according to a DNR estimate. Take that Minnesota!

Current cheeseheads contain 0% couch.
Current cheeseheads contain 0% couch.
3. An old couch gave birth to The Cheesehead

The first of the now iconic cheesehead you see fill the stands on Packers Sunday was originally made of burnt couch AND started at a Brewers game! Sports enthusiast and true Sconnie Ralph Bruno was reupholstering his mom's couch when he saw the foam and decided to embrace cheesehead like no one else. A few burnt holes and some yellow paint have made Bruno a true Sconnie hero!

4. The origin of the Wisconsin badger isn't actually the animal

Since 1957 the badger has been the official state animal of Wisconsin, but the origin of the Wisconsin badger actually refers to lead miners. In the 1820s miners would travel for work and didn't have anyplace to stay so they dug holes to sleep in, much like the beloved badger.

5. Wisconsin's is home to three "UFO Capitals"

Belleville, Dundee, and Elmwood, Wisconsin all claim to be the UFO capital of the world despite what Rosewell might have to say about that.

ET phone a friend
Elmwood, WIsconsin's (never used) landing port.
6. Wisconsin almost had an official state microbe

Move out of the way badgers and robins we've got a new Wisconsin symbol! In 2010 we almost made "lactococcus lactis" the official microbe of Wisconsin. And yes, of course it's used in making cheese.

7. You can major in your favorite food!

Wisconsin is the first - and only - state to offer a master cheese making program. It takes three years to complete and you have to have ten years of prior cheesemaking experience before even applying to the program. We don't take the title Master Cheesemaker lightly.

8. Wisconsin beats all other states in water fun

Noah's Ark in Wisconsin Dells really is the largest water park in the U.S. and Wisconsin Dells as a whole has the largest concentration of water parks in the world. ALso – Somerset, Wis. is the inner tubing capital of the world. Maybe it's the beautiful weather after a long winter or just access to so much water around the state but Wisconsin beats all other states when it comes to having fun on the water.

Slip and Slide into fun! Image: Wikimedia Commons
Slip and Slide into fun!
9. Wisconsin hosts the nation's largest music festival

The Chippewa Valley has made quite a name for itself lately when it comes to music festivals but Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wis. is still the largest music festival in the U.S. Summerfest averages 2,500 performers and over one million visitors each year with a Guinness World Record to prove it!

I can see where the record comes from. Image: Everfest.com
Summerfest: I can see where the record comes from. Image: Everfest.com
10. Wisconsin got overexcited to bring back drinking

Prohibition was repealed in 1933 nationwide however Wisconsinites had been drinking as we pleased for awhile already. In 1929 Wisconsin repealed prohibition statewide and Sconnies rejoiced while Wisconsin senator John Blaine spent the next four years passing the 21st amendment to repeal prohibition nationwide.

11. The swiss cheese capital of the world is where?

It would be a shame to end this list with anything other than a cheese fact so here you go. Monroe, Wis. is actually the (self-proclaimed) swiss cheese capital of the world. Visit Monroe this September for Green County Cheese Days to celebrate your love of all things dairy, no passport required.

Did we surprise you with anything? Let us know in the comments what your favorite fact was and go conquer that trivia night!

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Thursday, Apr. 21st, 2016

5 Things About Lismore, Australia (Eau Claire’s Sister City)

Lismore Australia
Lismore, Australia

1. College Town

Lismore isn’t just the name of a new hotel in Eau Claire; it’s also a city Down Under that happens to be Eau Claire’s sibling. And like Eau Claire, it’s a mid-sized city with a great big college. Southern Cross University has about 15,000 students, while the city of Lismore has about 46,000 residents. SCU is a public research institutions that excels in fields such as zoology, geochemistry, and forestry.

2. Timber!

Like Eau Claire, Lismore once was in the middle of the big woods, although in Lismore's case it was a subtropical rainforest known as the “Big Scrub” that covered a large area in the state of New South Wales. In the 19th century, Europeans felled most of the forest to make way for farms and settlements. (Sound familiar?) Now less than 1 percent of the region’s rainforest remains.

3. Confluence Community

Like its big sister in Wisconsin, Lismore sits on a confluence, with Wilsons River and Leycester Creek coming together in the city’s downtown. As with many river cities, Lismore has experienced flooding throughout its history, including a massive flood in 1954 that came just days after a visit from the young Queen Elizabeth II.

Lismore Australia
Once again: Lismore: Australia, where they drive on the other side of the street! Like it's a whole different country!

4. Musical Mention

Lismore is name-checked in the original (i.e., Australian) version of the country tune “I’ve Been Everywhere,” which rattles off dozens of colorful Aussie place names. You’re probably more familiar with the American adaptation, made famous by Johnny Cash and others (“Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota ...”).

5. Got Milk?

Lismore is located in a traditional dairying region, and is the headquarters of a large dairy co-op that operates an ice cream factory. However, far and away the biggest employers are in healthcare, retail, and education, so we’ve got those things in common, too.

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Wednesday, Apr. 20th, 2016

Volume One Wins Eau Claire Chamber’s Small Business of the Year Award

Tuesday was a big day for Volume One staffers – we were named Small Business of the Year (in the 1-25 Employees category) at the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting. We're proud to have been chosen for this award from amongst hundreds of great small businesses in the area.

It’s safe to say, however, that when the first issue of Volume One rolled off the press 14 years ago, it would have been unimaginable that we would win an award like this. It also would have been unimaginable that the magazine would be going strong after more than 300 issues; that we would have a whole retail store, art gallery, and event space housed in our very own World Headquarters; that we would be publishing another magazine, Chippewa Valley Family; or that we would have started community events such as the Sounds Like Summer Concert Series, which soon will kick off its 11th season.

So a big “thank you” is in order to the Chamber of Commerce for choosing us for this honor. But the biggest thanks goes to all of you, the tens of thousands of Chippewa Vallians who pick up a copy of the magazine every two weeks, who interact with us online, who shop in our store, or who take part in the events we coordinate. We are truly grateful for your support and the endless enthusiasm you share for our community. And of course, we need to thank the countless local businesses who've supported us all along through their advertisements and sponsorships.

The Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting – Tuesday, April 19. Photo: Cheri Weinke/Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce
The Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting – Tuesday, April 19. Photo: Cheri Weinke/Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce

Every year, The Chamber gives out two Small Business of the Year awards, and this year the larger division award (26-150 employees) went to Royal Construction. Royal is an Eau Claire-based construction firm that’s been building in our community for more than half a century. The awards, sponsored by Charter Bank and Wipfli, are based upon a list of criteria that includes “staying power, growth in number of employees, increase in sales and/or unit volume, financial success, entrepreneurship, innovativeness of product or service, offered response to adversity, community involvement, and innovative efforts shown in area of local or national interest.”

Check out the Chamber of Commerce website for a full list of winners in other categories, including Volunteer of the Year, Young Professional of the Year, and Public Employee of the Year.

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Tuesday, Apr. 19th, 2016

Help Design the Haymarket Plaza

A view of the Confluence Project from Summer, 2015.
A view of the Confluence Project from Summer, 2015. Image: Market & Johnson.

Right between the new Haymarket Landing mixed use development and the forthcoming Confluence Performing Arts Center is virtual blank canvas known as Haymarket Plaza. This plaza – most recently a municipal parking lot and now a construction staging area – will soon become a public area just across the water from Phoenix Park.

If you’re interested in helping the city refine its ideas for how the plaza can best be used, plan on attending an open house on Thursday, April 21, from 5-7pm in the North Conference Room of City Hall, 203 S. Farwell St.

According to the city, “The goal of the Open House is to refine the concepts that were favored at the previous placemaking exercise into a set of core concepts that can be brought forward for a final preferred design in upcoming months.” Prior discussions have identified numerous ideas for the plaza, including fire pits, interactive water features, places to sit and linger, and other features that would make the space a hub for pedestrians and bicyclists. To learn more visit, eauclairewi.gov and search for “Haymarket Plaza.” Or click here

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Monday, Apr. 18th, 2016

What Are We Doing Wrong With Our Cheeses?

It’s not often that Wisconsin is paired with words like “sophisticated” or “abstruse,” – unless one is referring to our love and knowledge of the Cheese Arts.

Let’s be honest. We’re pretty good at cheese. We even win international awards. But hearing about how other places don’t have nearly the variety of cheeses we have here, nor the knowledge base to prepare and serve such delicacies, it’s just saddening.

To counter this unfortunate circumstance, Thrillist got a cheese expert and compiled a list of all the things people are doing wrong with cheese. If you’re having problems with your cheese-eating experience, then chances are there’s a simple solution.

One common problem we can see even amongst Wisconsinites is a preference for processed cheese. With cheese being so popular and abundant here, it gets pumped out and put into stores pretty regularly. Some places may only have these highly-processed cheeses, which not only are a poor judge of cheese in general, they’re way less healthy. Thrillist’s cheesemonger said they’ll contain a lot more oil, while healthier cheeses are filled with omega-3’s.

Other recommendations: using cheese paper for storage, avoiding pre-cut cheese, trying "stinky" cheese, and purchasing moderate amounts. 

Read the rest of the article to find out more helpful cheese tips. Maybe even stop by your local cheese guy and pick up something new because here in Wisconsin, we like all different kinds.

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Friday, Apr. 15th, 2016

FIRST LOOK: A Sneak Peek Inside The Lismore

Opening in May, The Lismore hotel will feature 112 guest rooms
Opening in May, The Lismore hotel will feature 112 guest rooms, a restaurant (The Informalist), a bar (Dive), and a coffee shop (Eau Claire Downtown Coffee). See photos below.

If you have any question that downtown Eau Claire is changing rapidly and for the better, look no further than The Lismore, the towering, soon-to-reopen hotel.

Just over two years ago, the former Ramada Inn at the corner of South Barstow and Gibson streets had fallen into disrepair. Half of the rooms were unlivable, the hotel had lost its Ramada affiliation, and businesses were embarrassed to have clients or employees stay there.

“We knew Eau Claire needed a big investment in this property,” says Zach Halmstad, the entrepreneur who spearheaded the $20 million renovation. “We knew a small investment wouldn’t cut it. … We decided to take it upon ourselves, for better or worse.”

The project – now within days of final completion – definitely turned out for the better, giving the hotel an entirely new look. Nearly every surface, inside and out, is new. The aging exterior bricks were replaced with anodized metal panels in four shades of black, while the outside of the first floor is clad in pre-weathered Corten steel, which lend an urban yet earthy glow to the inviting entrances to the lobby, restaurant, and coffee shop.

Inside, 112 guest rooms are bathed in natural light thanks to larger, less-obstructed windows. The furniture is sleek and modern, with a muted color palette; the rooms have warm wood highlights, including repurposed barn boards in the suites. The walls are papered with large-scale reproductions of 1920s newspapers from Lismore, Australia, which add an offbeat, historic touch. (Lismore is Eau Claire’s sister city and the hotel’s namesake.)

The Lismore and its associated dining establishments will be opening their doors to eager visitors and locals in the coming weeks. Eau Claire Downtown Coffee is scheduled to open Wednesday, April 20; the restaurant, The Informalist, will begin serving dinner on Thursday, April 28; and the hotel itself and its the second-floor bar, Dive, are slated to begin operation the first week of May.

The Lismore's main eatery, The Informalist.
The Lismore's main eatery, The Informalist.

Focus on Quality

There have been the inevitable surprises and headaches of any renovation project, but Halmstad said he’s pleased with how The Lismore is shaping up. “We are right there,” he said of his initial goals for the project. “We wanted to have a really high-quality hotel, and we are delivering that.”

The “we” is Pablo Properties, the partnership that owns the hotel; it is led by Halmstad, co-founder of JAMF Software, which employs about 200 people a few blocks away.

At various times over the years the 40-year-old hotel was a Hilton, a Holiday Inn, and a Ramada. (Now, coincidentally, it has come full circle and will operate under Hilton’s semi-independent DoubleTree brand.) As the quality of the hotel plummeted a few years ago, local businesses stopped accommodating their visitors there. Instead, JAMF bused visiting clients and employees to hotels on the outskirts of the city a few miles from the activity, culture, and nightlife of downtown, giving them a skewed view of the city. “The first night they were in Eau Claire, they’d say, ‘Why do you guys live in Eau Claire?’ ” Halmstad recalls.

Now that visitors will be staying at The Lismore, that question will likely become far less common. Those familiar with the hotel’s previous appearance will be in for a (pleasant) surprise when they step in the door: The place is virtually unrecognizable. The Informalist restaurant covers roughly the same footprint as the previous dining area, but it’s far more open. The restaurant is separated from the lobby by large glass doors and a long “art wall” created by Tim Brudnicki, a local woodworker, and Greg Johnson, of Artisan Forge Studios in Eau Claire. Across the hallway, in space that was previously rented out as offices, you’ll find Eau Claire Downtown Coffee (ECDC for short), which will offer coffee (possible including) Aussie specialties), baked goods, and grab-and-go foods.

Near the front desk, a new staircase has been installed, twisting its way to the second floor under an enormous print that will be recognizable to anyone’s who’s gazed through their beer glass at a coaster in The Joynt. The stairs bring guests to the bar, which has taken the place of the atrium-covered swimming pool.

The number of guest rooms in the hotel has decreased from 123 to 112, with rooms on the eighth floor being transformed into larger suites: There are five one-bedroom suites as well as two suites with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

“The views are probably the best part of the rooms,” says Julia Johnson, also of Pablo Properties. From the upper floors, guests get a bird’s-eye perspective on familiar landmarks (the rivers, Phoenix Park, UW-Eau Claire) as well as new ones (including the soon-to-be-finished Haymarket Landing complex and the yet-to-be-built Confluence Performing Arts Center a few blocks away). The panoramic views from the spacious eighth-floor suites are particularly breathtaking.

The view from one of The Lismore's suites.
The view from one of The Lismore's suites.

Another Step

Not only did the rooms turn out beautifully, Halmstad says, but the hotel will offer food and beverage options that visitors and residents alike might not expect to find in Eau Claire. The Informalist will seat 120, with patio seating for 40 more outside, plus a private dining area. It features an L-shaped bar topped with 25,000 pennies, a massive mirror on the ceiling, a reclaimed oak floor, an open exhibition kitchen, and a custom-made wall print of Chopin sheet music (Halmstad majored in music at UW-Eau Claire). The restaurant will serve regional cuisine with international flair, featuring locally grown ingredients and a frequently changing menu.

Halmstad and Johnson praised the staff they’ve hired to operate the hotel, including Rebecca Staats, a Chippewa Valley native who worked in the hotel business in the Twin Cities and Chicago before returning recently to become director of sales and marketing at The Lismore. Staats says she’s been impressed with the enormous level of community interest in the project, and has fielded a steady stream of calls from people interested in taking tours or booking events.

And The Lismore has already been hosting events for months: The convention halls were among the first parts of the facility to be renovated, and the roughly 20,000 square feet of space has already hosted everything from art fairs to fundraisers to a rally by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Now the rest of the facility is poised to follow suit. As Johnson explains, “This is another step in fully revitalizing downtown.”


 

PHOTOS: A Peek Inside The Lismore

They're still setting things up and organizing, but check out some interior shots of the soon-to-reopen hotel in downtown Eau Claire, including its restaurant, bar, and coffee shop. 

Interior and Lounge Area

The Informalist (The Lismore's Eatery)

Dive (The Lismore's Bar)

Eau Claire Downtown Coffee

Rooms and Suites

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What Does Wisconsin Google More Than Other States?

Estately has compiled Google trend data to show what each state Googled more than any other state in 2015. Each state seems to have covered every one of the biggest stories to hit the mainstream media last year. From Pennsylvania obsessing over the royal baby, to New Mexico looking to learn more about new discoveries with Pluto. If it was big news, some state definitely Googled it the most.

And then there’s Wisconsin. Like the hungry knowledge enthusiasts we are, we sought to delve into only the most important topic to hit 2015: What does “bae” mean? Forget the new breakthroughs in science or the current political climate overseas. Everyone from pop stars to middle schoolers are using this new, alien word and we stopped at nothing to get to the bottom of what this means.

Well, what does it mean?

If anyone has ever called you bae, don’t worry, it’s not some new curse word the kids made up to make fun of you in front of your face. In fact, it’s a term of endearment. According to this New York Times article, some claim it’s an acronym for “before anyone else,” while some say it’s a shorter version of the word “babe” or “baby.” The word started being used in 2013 and gained popularity through the Pharrell Williams song Come Get It Bae in July of 2014. Google trend data shows this was when it was at peak popularity before dwindling out mid 2015. While it looks like we’re behind on the trends, at least we can say we aren’t in the dark anymore.

Luckily, I wouldn’t say it was the worst Google search of 2015. Just think of those in Iowa looking to see if there’s any leaked news on which guy The Bachelorette has voted off. And the people of West Virginia were dying to find out more about Magic Mike XXL; exclusive interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, they want it all.

Hopefully we can try and find some more interesting topics to Google in 2016. Other topics we googled more than other states in 2016 include Rep. Paul Ryan (newly elected Speaker of the House), "Koch brothers," and Political activities of the Koch brothers.

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Friday, Apr. 8th, 2016

An Eau Claire Man’s Trump-Trolling Sign Made the Internet Great Again

UW-Eau Claire Dustin Zebro
UW-Eau Claire student Dustin Zebro and his protest sign. 

A bit of Donald Trump-style braggadocio turned a UW-Eau Claire student’s hand-lettered sign into an Internet sensation.

We’re talking a huuuuuuuge number of hits, folks. It’s fantastic.

UWEC senior Dustin Zebro was one of more than 100 peaceful demonstrators who gathered outside Memorial High School in Eau Claire last Saturday to show their opposition to the Republican presidential frontrunner, who was speaking inside. Before the rally, Zebro recalled one of Trump’s trademark bold claims and converted it into humorous sign fodder. “I know signs. I make the best signs. Everyone agrees,” he wrote in black marker on white poster board.

(In case you don’t get the joke, The Donald declared in December that, “I know words, I have the best words,” while in November he said, “I have the world’s greatest memory. It’s one thing everyone agrees on.”)

“Quite a few yelled across and said, ‘You do have the best signs,’ ” he recalled. “I even got a few picture with Trump supporters. It was very friendly.”

If there was one thing at the Eau Claire Trump event that everyone agreed on, it was that Zebro’s sign was really, really funny – and apparently the Internet agreed. A user of the website Reddit posted a shapshot of Zebro and his sign online, and it quickly went viral. By the next morning, it had made the front page of Reddit – which essentially meant that it was among the hottest things on the Web. As of Friday, the original post by Reddit user StrachNasty (a.k.a. Jason Strachan) had received more than 5,300 upvotes and 2,100 comments, while the picture itself had 2.2 million views (and counting) on the image-hosting service Imgur.

Zebro awoke Sunday morning to texts and Facebook messages from friends who saw the picture blowing up the Internet. “I figured people would see it,” he says, “(but) I didn’t realized it would get concentrated in one place and spread all over.”

The original photo.
The original photo.

The sign got some attention from traditional media as well, particularly overseas. An article ran on the website of The Telegraph, one of Britain’s biggest newspapers. (The headline: “This anti-Trump protester makes the best signs. They're terrific.”) Stories also popped up in the Irish Examiner, Metro.co.uk, Yahoo News UK, and elsewhere. (They really liked the sign across the pond, apparently.)

Zebro says he stood for two and a half hours holding the sign without getting nasty feedback. “I actually didn’t get one negative comment the whole time,” he says.

If there’s anything Trump likes more than exaggerations, it’s insults, but Zebro says he stood for two and a half hours holding the sign without getting nasty feedback. “I actually didn’t get one negative comment the whole time,” he says.

“Quite a few yelled across and said, ‘You do have the best signs,’ ” he recalled. “I even got a few picture with Trump supporters. It was very friendly.”

The same went for the entire atmosphere of the rally outside Memorial. While tempers – and even violence – have flared between Trump fans and foes at rallies around the nation, the Eau Claire gathering was notably civil and even good-natured. Trump supporters lined up on the sidewalk and demonstrators standing in the street even tossed a football back and forth and sang along to Queen songs playing from a boombox.

As organizer Jordan Duroe wrote on Facebook, “Not only did numerous police officers come through the line to say thanks for how we conducted ourselves, but a reporter who has been on the road following Trump rallies all over the country and has seen other protests and clashes told me ‘this was something different!’ ”

As Trump himself would say, that’s very, very, very classy.

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