Updated: 06/22/2014 10:32 PM
Created: 06/22/2014 6:56 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
Many cities have a hometown hero, but few are gold-medal winning Olympian like hockey star Buzz Schneider from Babbitt. The town honored the “Miracle on Ice” player by parading him down Central Boulevard on Sunday.
It has been over 30 years since Buzz Schneider helped defeat the Soviet Union in the “Miracle on Ice” and go on to win a gold medal, but residents in Babbitt still take pride in the victory as he paraded down the streets he grew up on.
“Special, it didn't really hit me until I came into town, and they got that sign about me in front of the town. That's when it started to hit me, and to be a grand marshal of the town you grew up in that's really special,” Buzz Schneider said.
He led a parade on Sunday that concluded Babbitt's summer festival, the Peter Mitchell Days. The celebration honors the only thing that means more than hockey in Northnern Minnesota.
“The memorial in the center of town is one of the original test sites for the Iron Range. It was one of the original rocks taken out. So the home of Taconite of course is the pride of it, absolutely,” Rick Jaeger said.
Jaeger is a resident who has seen mining jobs wane and the Babbitt population dip, but he said they stick with their hockey heritage.
“We're steeped in hockey tradition around here. The kids around here have to travel a long ways to play hockey. It's not in their backyard like the Twin Cities folks,” Jaeger said.
Schneider said he loves coming back home to see the people's passion and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Northland.
“I don't think you can beat Northern Minnesota. I did a lot of traveling, but to come back up in the summertime there is nothing like it up here. The people are pretty neat, hard-working people, honest and you respect them just like they respect you. This is really special for me,” Schneider said.
He said life has changed on the Iron Range, but Babbitt residents are proud of what they've been able to hold on to.
“Just pride of community coming from a small town at the end of the road down at the Iron Range,” Jaeger said.
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