The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 11, 2012

Rooftop martini glass shakes up city

MANKATO — A colorful 12-foot-tall martini glass that made its gleaming debut along Mankato’s skyline earlier this week is a piece of art to the man who built it.

To city officials, it’s advertising that must come down.

Don Kopp, who owns a construction business, was doing some iron work when the bright idea crossed his mind. It wasn’t long before he was pitching his plan to Mike Baumann, owner of Old Town’s Wine Cafe.

“I’d made a few little ornaments for my dad and his lawn,” Kopp said. “Then I thought it would be cool to add some lights. I know Mike and I knew he had a flat rooftop. So I said, ‘Why don’t we put something up to decorate the roof?’ I didn’t think he would actually agree to it.”

But Baumann did agree to the plan, so Kopp went to work in the Wine Cafe’s basement at about 4 p.m. Sept. 28. Employees fetching ice for the bar and restaurant occasionally stopped to watch as he welded half-inch steel rods into the form of a martini glass with an olive at the bottom. A straw that sticks out from the top had to be added outside otherwise Kopp’s creation wouldn’t have fit through the door.

He was done welding by about 1:30 a.m. the next day. Kopp and Baumann spent many more hours hoisting the glass, along with about 300 pounds of tools, up to the roof. It was fastened to a 3-foot-high base, which also had to be pulled up to the roof in four sections.

Kopp added LED lights to make the glass blue, the olive green and the straw red. They weren’t ready to be turned on until Sunday of this week.

Kopp said he would put his glowing goblet up against the controversial Mankato Piece at an art show. “It was my silly idea and I was just trying to be creative,” he said. “I didn’t put it up there to be an eyesore or to offend anyone. It’s an illuminated sculpture. It’s definitely better than that awful looking thing at (Riverfront) Park. That’s just a bunch of old bridge beams.”

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