Hot, crowded conditions didn't dampen Moorhead 'Extreme Makeover' spirits
MOORHEAD It should be renamed "Extreme Takeover." That's exactly what happened to this south Moorhead neighborhood Sunday as roads were closed, lawns were trampled and people were bused in to take part in the big reveal of the Bill and Adair Grom...
It should be renamed "Extreme Takeover."
That's exactly what happened to this south Moorhead neighborhood Sunday as roads were closed, lawns were trampled and people were bused in to take part in the big reveal of the Bill and Adair Grommesh home at 803 22nd Ave. S.
Onlookers sat on rooftops, climbed trees, perched on Dumpsters and pushed up against barriers to catch a glimpse of the Grommeshes' reaction when they finally moved that proverbial bus a little after 3 p.m.
(This was actually the second time the bus was moved. In the not-so-real atmosphere that surrounds reality TV, the bus had also been moved earlier. Also in the name of good TV footage, an empty limo was filmed pulling up to the house a couple of times, and Ty Pennington was filmed welcoming home an invisible Grommesh clan hours before they arrived on site.)
Community members waited for hours in 80-plus temperatures, cheering when prompted by one of the show's tattooed, cowboy-hat-sporting crew members. Behind the steel barricades, mothers cradled fair-skinned babies who looked like they were getting too much sun, and one flushed-looking young woman sat in a folding chair next to me, looking suspiciously close to heat exhaustion.
In the body-packed spectator section, I heard the whine of a young child's voice: "Mom, this is boring."
I turned to see a 7- or 8-year-old boy, dressed in a hand-lettered "Move That Bus" T-shirt and looking as miserable as if he'd just received a lifetime sentence to summer school. I wondered how long this poor little guy had waited in the sun, only to see the backs of people's heads and a lot of pretend bus moving.
Overall, however, most people seemed glad to be there. The festive mood was helped along by NDSU's Gold Star Marching Band, which somehow managed to belt out spirited versions of "Bad Romance" and "Crazy Train" despite sporting dark, long-sleeved, polyester uniforms. (Man, marching band is a lot cooler than in the 1980s, when I had to play snare drum to "Windy.")
Among the enthused onlookers were teacher Rachel Heggen and her 9-year-old son, Grant. Rachel stood in the scant shade provided by Grant as he balanced on a folding chair. She said she'd kept up with the project all week, even incorporating updates into the social studies classes of her high school students in West Fargo.
"I think it's a teachable moment," she said, smiling broadly. "It's good for the kids to learn about community effort and empathy."
Another supporter, Bobbi Mercil, had set up a card table on a neighbor's lawn and was selling bottle-cap necklaces for $10. The proceeds will support Hope Inc., the nonprofit run by the Grommesh family.
Mercil revealed she already had $850 in sales tucked away in a Rubbermaid container at her elbow, and the day wasn't over yet.
As a friend of the Grommeshes, Mercil said, "I just wanted to help out."
"They're just awesome, friendly, giving people," she said of the "Extreme Makeover" family. "They always think of others first when they should probably be thinking of themselves. I don't think I've ever heard them complain."
And, indeed, when the Grommeshes got there - for real, this time - it was hard not to be moved by their reaction. Adair, shaking with emotion, waved at the crowds and yelled that she loved them.
Just before ducking into the house for their first tour, Bill stuck his hand out the door and gave everyone a thumbs-up.
And with that, a week of extreme hoopla was over.
Welcome home, Grommesh family.
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.