The people supported by Hammer Residences participated in the Wayzata James J. Hill Days parade this year, continuing a tradition that has lasted for more than three decades.

Hammer has long been a part of the Wayzata community, since the doors of the nonprofit opened in 1923. For more than 30 years, a very meaningful part of the relationship has been the participation in the annual James J. Hill Days community celebration. The people who live and work at Hammer Residences have joined in on the event in many ways throughout the years, including floats in the parade, hosting a craft booth, showcasing Special Olympics winners, and selling Hammer artwork.

“People are very proud to be part of Hammer and the community of Wayzata. There is a sense of belonging,” Hammer Development Director, Ellen Timmerman-Borer said.

She remembers organizing Hammer’s involvement in James J. Hill Days in her position as Hammer recreation director in 1984. She has fond memories of walking in the parade and winning the “Most Enthusiastic” award that year.

Many older adults who live at Hammer grew up with the event. They recall participating in the parade when they were teenagers, and they still look forward to joining the festivities every year. This group is also slowly passing the torch to a new generation. A number of participants this year had less than five years under their belt. Young or old however, the response is always the same, “Can we do it again next year?”

James J. Hill Days is a place for the people who are supported by Hammer to share their skills, artwork, and friendship with others. It is also the perfect place to say thank you to a community that has continued to support Hammer’s mission to help people with developmental disabilities live life to its fullest.


Amanda Schwarze is a Lakeshore reporter who is passionate about local government and nonprofit projects. She is thoughtful and independent. Amanda loves traveling, cooking and spending time with her boyfriend and their two cats (Buddy Guy and Spotacus).