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Picnic planned, as Sterling Kmart gang sticks together

Published: Monday, July 21, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
(Michael Krabbenhoeft/
Kmart mascot Mr. Bluelight greets former store employees during a farewell party Jan. 18 at Comfort Inn and Suites in Dixon. The Sterling Kmart store closed Jan. 12. Keeping with the promise by employee committee members to have future get-togethers with former Kmart workers, a reunion picnic is planned for Aug. 10 at Centennial Park in Rock Falls.
(Philip Marruffo/
Michael Childres of Savanna puts goods from Kmart into his vehicle during the final days the Kmart store in Sterling was open. The store closed Jan. 12. In October, Kmart's parent company, Sears Holdings, announced that it was shutting down the local store. The once-dominant retailer has closed stores across the country.

STERLING – Former employees of the now-closed Sterling Kmart had a farewell party in January, and now will gather for what promises to be a much more upbeat affair.

A reunion picnic is planned for Aug. 10 at Centennial Park, East 11th Street and Avenue D, in Rock Falls, said Shane Bielema, a 7-year employee of the store that announced its closing to workers on Oct. 13, 2013.

“We’re just reuniting and having some fun,” Bielema said. “It’s for anyone who worked at the Sterling Kmart and their families during the 41 years it was open.”

Festivities will begin at noon until the party breaks up. There will be a bags tournament, and lots of other games for kids and adults.

Everyone attending is asked to bring a dish to pass, their own place settings and drinks.

More than 100 people showed up in nasty winter weather for the farewell party in January at Dixon’s Comfort Inn & Suites.

Bielema created a Facebook page for the Sterling Kmart community to share memories, note special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries, and even give each other a helping hand.

“This group is still close, and this page has allowed us to be there for each other during illnesses or any other situation where we can offer support,” Bielema said.

Sterling Kmart reunion

What: A reunion picnic for former Sterling Kmart workers and their families

When: Noon, Aug. 10

Where: Centennial Park, East 11th Street and Avenue D, Rock Falls

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