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The grand opening: an event that drew 4,000 people to the doors

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mall opening day

WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW) — Early on August 3rd 1983, Wausau got a shout out on National Television.

Mayor John L Kannenberg appeared on GMA in front of the Wausau Center Mall, where a five day celebration to dedicate Wausau's new downtown was starting.

"I think it was maybe one of our first live productions that we had done," former anchor Beth Zurbuchen said. "I've been to Super Bowls and Rose Bowls. It was like that. People were partying. The street in front of where our stage was. It was packed."

Another resident also remembers the ceremony.

"Ha, it really just was a really fantastic time," resident Carla said. "And I look back now as a person who's a little bit older and I think it really was hyped up. There were so many people there.

The Mayor at the time, John Kannenberg, welcomed the large crowd.

"My dad was very emotional," Loren Kannenberg said. "So were we and he choked up a couple of times while he gave his speech."

"The truth of the matter is that, in this case, we have acted together as a community," John said in 1983.

And before long, the cutting of the ceremonial ribbon began.

"OK, alright? Let's go. And that energy built and built and so it was really exciting," Beth said.

"We're inside the mall right now and that was no easy task. I'm with Ron Grimza right now the manager of the mall. // You must be pretty excited. Oh, this is tremendous. Just take a look behind us. There's excitement throughout the city. It's great," Duane Gay said.

"And touring the mall for the first time," Loren said. "Of course, I personally thought it was pretty cool."

It was a retail transformation.

"It was, you know, a new era and people were excited about what was going to happen and what it was going to mean to our community," Jim Tipple said.

"It was a festive day and there were a lot of celebration and excitement and high expectations," John said.

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