JEFFERSON, Iowa -- On July 23rd, Jefferson will be an overnight stop on this year's RAGBRAI route.
RAGBRAI leaders produced a rock video to announce the theme; they created a parody of the song "Highway to Hell" with their own version called "Highway to Bells." When riders come into town from Denison, they will see signs promoting that title to encourage them to visit the Mahaney Bell Tower in Jefferson.
Last year, the community installed new bells on the tower.
“We kind of played on the Hairball theme of going with 'Highway to Bells,' tying in with landmark Mahaney Bell Tower,” said Jefferson RAGBRAI Co-Chair Matt Wetrich. “Some very creative people on our team to come up with that.”
A local artist painted portraits of RAGBRAI founders John Karras and Donald Kaul on a piano, along with a portrait of retired Des Moines Register columnist, and former RAGBRAI lead rider Chuck Offenburger.
Offenburger now lives south of Jefferson near the town of Cooper, but right on the Raccoon River Valley Trail.
“Anytime RAGBRAI is near the trail, we get all kinds of extra traffic on it,” he said. “Like the week before RAGBRAI, there will be riders streaming through here all week who are riding out to the start of RAGBRAI.”
Offenburger used to help lead and write about RABGRAI as the “Iowa Boy” columnist for the Register, the same job Kyle Munson held until recently. He also has experience working on RAGBRAI in the local communities.
“The last time RAGBRAI was here overnight in 2008, my wife Karla and I were co-chairs with two other couples of the committee here,” said Offenburger. “We had done that same thing earlier in 2001 in Storm Lake, so when the ride came this year, we said we’re a little too old for that now, but we’ll be happy to be involved.”