by Dennis Dalman
Joyce McCann, who was crowned as the 1951 Sartell Winter Haven Queen, died at the age of 90 March 3 in St. Cloud.
She passed away at St. Benedict’s Senior Community. Her funeral was held March 10 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud, after which she was entombed in the Assumption Cemetery mausoleum, also in St. Cloud.
Once upon a time, in the early 1950s, when Sartell was a small village of only about 800 people, a winter event dubbed “Sartell Winter Haven” was started at what is now Watab Park. The festival was very popular; people came from miles around, as far away as Minneapolis, to join the fun: ice skating, snow sculpting, musical performances and parades with marching bands and hand-waving royalty, one of whom – in 1951 – was a young Sauk Rapids woman, Joyce Yozamp (later McCann). Winter Haven was started in 1950, the year before Yozamp’s coronation.
Sartell Winter Haven continued for about a half dozen winters and had ceased to exist by the late 1950s.
In a feature story published in 2018 in the Sartell-St. Stephen Newsleader, McCann vividly recalled, 65 years later, the 1951 Sartell Winter Haven and what a good time was had by one and all.
Yozamp was one of two dozen women vying to become queen. She remembered how they brought her a royal robe and placed the crown on her head as the big crowd cheered and applauded her and her two princesses, Sue Smitten and Phyllis Hary.
“I was shocked to be chosen queen,” she recalled. “Stunned.”
Stunned because for one thing Yozamp was not a Sartell resident. She lived at that time near Rice, in Mayhew Lake Township. She did, however, have one “Sartell connection” – her sponsor, a business named Case Floral.
Earlier in 1951, Yozamp had been honored with another crown; she was named Miss Sauk Rapids.
In 2018, McCann was chosen to ride again in a parade, waving again to the crowds along the streets during the annual Sartell SummerFest celebration. She was in her 80s at that time.
The Sartell Winter Haven coronation ceremony took place in a very large quonset building (“Sunset Lodge”) constructed on the site of what is now Sartell’s Watab Park. Sartell Winter Haven was a “big deal” in the 1950s, McCann recalled. McCann remembers how Winter Haven was a flurry of fun activities for all ages: skiing down the hill to the frozen Watab River, tobogganing, skating on an open rink, sledding, snowball fights and all kinds of other frosty fun in the “good old days,” when snowy winter weather did not last well into April.
For being named queen, Yozamp won an all-expenses-paid trip to Sun Valley, Idaho – a mecca for skiers and vacationers – then as now. As queen, she took part in many social appearances, including lots of parades, some of them in midwinter.
The “brains” behind Winter Haven, McCann said, was a priest named the Rev. Edward C. Ramacher. He was a young newcomer as pastor to the relatively new St. Francis Xavier Church in Sartell.
Ramacher, who had started a winter festival in Little Falls earlier, decided Sartell needed some healthy, local, inexpensive winter-time fun, especially for younger people. His idea, formulated in 1949, came true in 1950, and the winter festival was an instant success.
“Ramacher was a wonderful, wonderful priest,” McCann said. “And he knew how to get things done. He knew all the big shots, even some in the Twin Cities. Ramacher was quite the promoter. Oh, was he ever!”
At the time of her Winter Haven coronation, Yozamp was engaged to a St. Cloud man, Don McCann. After her reign and after he returned from military service in Korea, they were married. He worked for a phone company, and so the couple had to move quite often, living in numerous cities, including their early years together as a married couple in North Dakota.
During those years, Joyce worked as a clerk in many banks, city to city. She retired in 1998 from St. Cloud National Bank, in east St. Cloud.
McCann, in her retirement years, would spend winters with her husband in Texas. She loved playing golf, sewing and serving as a volunteer for Meals on Wheels and a local food shelf. She was an active member of St. Mary’s Cathedral and of the auxiliaries of the St. Cloud Eagles and the St. Cloud VFW.
Her husband, Don, died in 2001. She is survived by many nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews, other relatives and many friends.