ROCHESTER, Minn. - People, animals and vehicles aren't the only things this cold weather is taking a toll on. The playing of the carillon bells in the Plummer Building is currently on pause because of it. But KIMT News 3 is learning it goes deeper than just the music coming from the bell tower.
It's a familiar sound in Rochester throughout the week. The tradition of the carillon bells dates back to 1928, symbolizing a moment of peace. Austin Ferguson plays them in the Plummer Building five days a week. He gets several messages a day about how happy people are when they hear them being played. "Something so small that you can do just playing for 20 to 30 minutes at a time can really make an impact on people," he said. "I think that speaks very eloquently to the all encompassing care that Mayo Clinic tries to cultivate. It's not just for your physical wellbeing, we also care about your mental wellbeing."
At the beginning of the pandemic, Ferguson had to stop ringing the bells for three months. He said during that time, everyone could tell the morale was low within the community. The sound of the carillon bells ringing might be a very minor thing to some, but it carries hope and resiliency during a tough time. "I'm not anything like the frontline workers with health care because they're incredible," explained Ferguson. "I cannot praise them enough for how they've responded to this, but just in my own kind of small way I try and keep the mood light and keep up the semblance of normalcy that the clinic would normally operate with."
Ferguson is hoping to get back up in the bell tower next week if the weather gets a little warmer. Mayo Clinic is the only medical center in North America that has an instrument like the carillon bells.