Lowell has long had Queen Competitions. Some occurred each year, such as the annual crowning of the Showboat Queen, but one Queen crowning was the grandest of them all. That was the Lowell Centennial Queen, part of the Centennial Celebration of 1931. That Queen was Miss Emma Kropf.
The Lowell Centennial was not only the result of one hundred years of history, but of months and months of planning. The citizens undertook the task of writing a book as a tribute to the pioneers, old residents and citizens of “Lowell - 100 Years of History, 1831-1931.” The Lowell Board of Trade (business leaders) and the Lowell Women's Club planned a tremendous Centennial Celebration.
The opening day of the celebration began at 5 a.m. with the discharge of 20 pounds of nitroglycerin by the centennial committee. The bombs were fired to awaken the people for their 100th birthday party. This kicked off a multitude of events of celebration. Special events included picnic lunches and barbeques, a parade over three miles long, special addresses by visiting mayors, legislators and the Governor, a baseball game, free entertainment acts, band concerts, balloon ascension with parachute drop, an historical pageant and an outdoor dance.
Emma Kropf was born in 1913, the youngest of the seven children of Christian and Jennie Kropf. Christian was a farmer; but he also planted cherry and apple trees which has become a well-known corporation in Vergennes Township, known as Kropf Orchards. Emma attended the Moseley School, corner of Lincoln Lake and 4 Mile Rd, and Lowell High School. Since they lived near Murray Lake, the family kept row boats for fisherman and Emma dug worms and sold them. Favorite pastimes were swimming in and ice skating on Murray Lake, and volleyball and softball on Sunday afternoons. Emma graduated from Lowell High School in 1930 and immediately began working at the Lowell State Bank as teller and bookkeeper.
Eleven candidates were nominated to run for Queen. Each business in Lowell gave tickets out based on the amount of dollars spent at that business. The customers then wrote the name of the candidate of their choice on each ticket and turned it in. In Emma's case, many of the customers simply brought their tickets to the Bank and gave them to Emma to write her name on them. In fact, so many were given to her that Dan Wingeier, her boss, made a rubber stamp with her name on it.
Emma Kropf received the most votes and was crowned queen at Recreation Park on August 6, 1931, the first day of the 3-day celebration. She wore a white satin dress and was crowned with a white sequined crown. This crown is now on display at the Lowell Area Historical Museum. Her Queen’s Court included: Essie Condon, Roxie Condon, Dorothy Bieri, Audrey Carey, Bernice Lee, Helen Cahoon, Louise Ryder, Patricia Hefferan, Ruby Eickhoff, and Myrtle Jay.
On the second day, the grand centennial parade proceeded through Lowell and stretched out for three miles. Thousands of people lined the streets; the greatest crowd ever! Emma said, "I did not wave at the crowd, except for Bob and Helen. I did not know you were supposed to or maybe it wasn't done back then." After the parade, the Governor of Michigan Wilber Brucker addressed the crowd.
The Centennial Celebration was a party like none other, and it brought over 60,000 people to Lowell. It also gave Lowell a queen, Centennial Queen Emma Kropf.
Queen Emma and five of her court were still around for Lowell’s Sesquicentennial in 1981 and rode in that parade as well.