A Place to Mourn

City of Chanhassen and local law enforcement made way for mourners near Paisley Park.

While Prince fans everywhere were stunned at the news of his death, the city of Chanhassen and local law enforcement had a different challenge: When your city suddenly becomes the epicenter of an international news story, how do you keep all your residents and your visitors safe?

Upon hearing the news of Prince’s death from first responders at the scene on April 21, city manager Todd Gerhardt called Mayor Denny Laufenburger, and the city council, and met with leaders from city departments. “It was a team effort,” Gerhardt says, noting that nearby cities offered assistance.

Over the course of the weekend, city staff and local law enforcement worked together to create a place where fans could pay their respects at the quickly expanding memorial along the fence at Paisley Park. “I wanted to go there,” says Kristin Campbell, a self-described Prince fanatic from Waconia who visited the memorial on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday after Prince’s death. “To go back each day, and see more and more people… It was really awesome to see.”

From the small touches—luminary bags placed in the tunnel under Highway 5 from Lake Ann Park to Paisley Park—to the larger issues like redirecting traffic and putting up barricades to give mourners more room to walk—the city sought to welcome visitors and ensure everyone’s safety. “We are never ready for a tragedy like this, but we are always prepared,” Laufenburger says.