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Column: Off-the-wall fundraiser returns to downtown Duluth

Kristi Stokes1 / 2
Kristi Stokes rappels down the Sellwood Building in last year’s Over the Edge event.2 / 2

Duluth is known for its active, community-oriented lifestyle. Plus, we recently gained victory as Outside Magazine’s best outdoors town in the country. So it seems quite logical that we would take an amazing outdoor adventure and adapt it to an urban setting. And that’s exactly what we’re doing, once again, as we send people rappelling from the rooftop of a downtown building as part of an innovative summer fundraiser.

Over the Edge, presented by Western Bank, returns to Superior Street during the Sidewalk Days Festival in July. This off-the-wall event drew adventurous participants and large crowds of spectators as individuals rappelled down the Superior Street face of the Sellwood Building. Of course, now that the community has experienced such an event, we’re hopeful even more individuals will sign up to join us as fundraisers.

As an organization, the Greater Downtown Council is always looking at new ways to shine the spotlight on Duluth’s central business district and this is definitely one way to get noticed. Whether you love adventure, want to prove that you can overcome a fear of heights or just want to support the downtown, this is your chance to be among the limited participants. We have again teamed up with Over the Edge USA, as this company brings in its trained technicians and gear to send rappellers over the rooftop. (They also offer kind, experienced words of advice and encouragement before you take that first step backward). Plus, the event is aimed at helping us further revitalize the heart of our community.

Thanks to last year’s event, we have created a zero-interest revolving loan fund to help retailers refresh their storefronts. Managed by the Entrepreneur Fund, this program allows retailers to invest in new signage, awnings, windows or doors. Two businesses recently took advantage of the program. Pizza Man and E’Clips on the Lake made side-by-side improvements by adding new awnings and signage last week to their storefronts in the 400 block of West Superior Street. This is yet another positive investment in that block as the businesses are directly across from the construction site of Maurices’ new headquarters.

We’re pleased that businesses such as Western Bank, Holiday Inn & Suites, Maurices, KBJR, Giant Voices, Advantage Emblem, MIX108, Advanstar, Interstate Parking, Duluth Photography Institute and building owner A & A Enterprises have been inspired to support this event as well. They are passionate about making our downtown a more vibrant business district and we’re pleased to have them as partners.

If you wish to rappel or wish to donate to this event, please visit and check out Over the Edge for more details. Space is limited, so don’t delay in registering.

Kristi Stokes is the president of the Greater Downtown Council in Duluth. Contact her at 727-8549 or by email at

Kristi Stokes

Kristi Stokes is the president of the Greater Downtown Council in Duluth. Contact her at 727-8549.