ST. CLOUD, Minn. — All around us, lilacs are in bloom. As a general rule of thumb, Memorial Day weekend is when you can expect to see them, and they don't last all summer.
So now is the best time to head to Boomerville Lodge, a hobby farm located between Cold Spring and St. Cloud with an entire maze made of lilac bushes. Hobby farmer Mike Nistler invited KARE 11 back again this year for peak viewing time.
"They're pretty good right now, almost prime," Nistler said Thursday. "I would say another day or two. Plenty good right now."
Nistler first planted the lilacs into a maze pattern around 20 years ago and today some of the bushes are 10 feet tall. He says it takes three or four minutes to walk through the 500-foot-long maze without stopping at the benches positioned along the way.
Last year, he opened his "lilac labyrinth" to the public for the first time and says at least 500 people came to see it.
"I think the people from the city like to get out in the country so it's a good opportunity to share the beauty of nature," he said.
Nistler says it's also an opportunity to honor those who served. He dedicates this year's labyrinth to his second cousin, Ron Nistler.
"Ron was a medic in Vietnam," he said. "Everybody knew that Ron had their back if they got injured or needed help, Ron would be there."
"He ended up getting Agent Orange and he's had seven surgeries for cancer and now he has a feeding tube and he's not able to speak but he's got a great attitude … The thing I really admire him for is he was a volunteer driver for fellow veterans and he logged over 5,800 hours that he donated his time and I just think people need to hear about that."
Mike Nistler is also a veteran. He served six years in the Army Reserves.
"I realize that Memorial Day is for the people that passed fighting wars but I think we should be thinking about our veterans more than just on Veteran's Day," he said.
Nistler doesn't charge people to visit the labyrinth but donations are welcome. He says all money will go directly to Ron Nistler to help cover medical costs and recreational activities. Ron Nistler's wife is living with dementia and is currently hospitalized in Fargo for breast cancer treatment.
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