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News 9 Rewind: VP Dan Quayle visits Wausau

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW) -- On May 24, 1990 Wausau West High School hosted Vice President Dan Quayle. He visited the city to support then-Governor Tommy Thompson's re-election campaign.

One day before the visit, WAOW reporter Wendy Erickson reported that 14 Secret Service agents conducted numerous security assessments at the school.

Secret Service agents would later assess the need for better stage lighting. They realized it just hours before the Vice President was scheduled to arrive.

Last-minute setup

Jeff Murray, a Wausau West music teacher at the time, was setting up audio equipment for the school jazz band that night. A lead Secret Service agent asked him if he knew of anyone who could help.

He called up Ron Aderholdt, a local lighting designer who worked on the Wausau West Pop Concerts.

"At about one in the morning I recall you giving me a phone call at home," said Aderholdt. " 'Hey Ron, this is Jeff. I'm down at West and we're getting ready for the Vice President's visit and I think they need a little of your help on lighting.' "

In a FaceTime call Saturday, Murray and Aderholdt recounted the events of that night.

"Of course, I was setting up the band stuff the night before," said Murray. "That's when somebody must have approached me about the lighting situation."

The original supplier of lighting for the event wasn't able to provide sufficient lighting.

Murray put Aderholdt in contact with the agent in charge, who had specific requirements for lighting. He needed 150 foot-candles of light on the Vice Presidential podium. He also needed it by 7:00 AM, which was less than 6 hours away.

"And I said, 'Yeah, I can do it if I can get the correct equipment,' " said Aderholdt.

After a number of phone calls, the team acquired the needed equipment. The lighting designer began hanging truss from the fieldhouse rafters.

"I, then, very vividly remember a Secret Service guy walking up to me," said Aderholdt. "And he said 'You got that all double-bolted up there? We don't want any of this stuff falling on the Vice President.' I said, 'Yep, absolutely.' "

After hooking up all the equipment, Aderholdt powered up the lights. The Secret Service lead agent took a light reading. Upon seeing that there was over twice the required light at the podium, the agent asked for the intensity to be turned down.

The Vice President arrives

Jeff Murray, who had gone home to sleep, returned later that morning with the jazz band. After the Secret Service's bomb sweeps, they played for the 2500 attendees.

"The jazz band… they played really well that day," said Murray. "It was kind of fun to play for the student body. It was kind of the thing to help get the band program rolling off. Got a reputation, whatever, and it was just fun. The whole thing."

The Vice President was in Wausau for 3 hours. First he attended a campaign breakfast to raise money for Governor Thompson. At Wausau West he encouraged students to say no to drugs.

Secret Service agents handed Murray and Aderholdt Vice Presidential tie clasps after the event.

Disclaimer: Ron Aderholdt is the father of News 9 photo journalist Curtis Aderholdt.

Curtis Aderholdt

A WAOW photo journalist since December 2014.

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