Anyone passing by Northfield’s Central Park Aug. 7 may have noticed an anachronistic guest: Theodore Roosevelt.
Roosevelt spent the day (and night) camping out in the park in a period-accurate tent filled with replica artifacts from the 26th president’s lifetime, as he does most nights May through October.
Throughout the day, Roosevelt regaled passers-by with stories from the president’s life, from his years as a rancher in the Badlands to his groundbreaking policies (many of which are still in effect today, like the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906).
Portraying Roosevelt was Adam Lindquist, a professional Roosevelt impersonator from Lonsdale. Lindquist is a three-time national champion at his trade, an occupation that began 12 years ago with a simple revelation: with the right glasses and mustache, Lindquist and Roosevelt bear a striking resemblance.
Lindquist first became fascinated with Roosevelt as a child, when he was entranced with the man’s larger-than-life history as a cowboy, president, conservationist and prolific writer, notorious for his habit of reading an entire book every day.
“I try to live by the morals I learned from Roosevelt,” Lindquist said.
At age 42, Roosevelt became the nation’s youngest president after the assassination of William McKinley in 1901. He was known for his commitment to conservation, establishing several new national parks and promoting the preservation of public lands. He was also the first to invite a black man to the White House (Booker T. Washington).
Though he only lived to be 60, Lindquist admires the constant, tireless energy that Roosevelt poured into each of his pursuits.
“He packed 10 lifetimes into one,” Lindquist said. “I hope that I bring a flavor of who he is.”
In addition to educational performances, Lindquist keeps the legacy alive through meeting with politicians and working with lobbyists, reminding them of Roosevelt’s ideals.
Lindquist previously brought Roosevelt to Northfield in 2015 at a Books & Stars event. This year, the Northfield Historical Society wanted to bring him back as part of the Cannon River Watershed Partnership’s Year of Water activities, a 12-month celebration of protecting and promoting the area’s water resources.
Roosevelt’s camp was well-attended, according to Cathy Osterman, Historical Society executive director. Earlier that day, dozens of kids from a summer program rode their bikes for a morning story time. The afternoon’s activities included a camp tour and evening talk, attended by both kids and adults.
“This morning, with the story time, we had a lot of kids. It was seriously fun,” Osterman said. “The museum doesn’t do a lot of family programming, so this is the perfect atmosphere.”
For Lindquist, Roosevelt’s lasting appeal and legacy lies in how his policies weren’t grounded in the politics of the time, but were intended to benefit Americans’ children, grandchildren and beyond.
“I didn’t do it just for today. I did it for the future,” said Lindquist, in character. “What would we do for the next generation?”