The Hal Prize At 21

The Hal Prize issue you hold in your hands marks the 21st year that the Peninsula Pulse has coordinated and published this annual contest. And each year, when this issue rolls around, I am amazed at how the contest has grown and, in some ways, surprised that it continues to thrive and flourish.

Rather than recap the evolution of the Hal Prize this year, an acknowledgment of the debt that is owed to all the people who have worked on this contest through the years and all the sponsors who have supported the project and the writers/photographers seems not only appropriate, but also overdue. After all, they are the ones who have ensured that the contest has flourished.

I won’t bore you with a long list of Pulse employees who have worked on this contest through the years – they have been numerous – but you should know that, as primarily journalists, working with creative writing and photography has been out of character for some. Regardless, they have applied themselves to the contest with the same focus, attention to detail and enthusiasm they bring to every other aspect of their “normal” roles in the company.

Likewise, I won’t impose a long list of sponsors through the years (this year’s sponsors are detailed elsewhere in this issue), but there are a few that merit acknowledgments, most notably Jeanne and David Aurelius of Clay Bay Pottery near Ellison Bay. Each year, Jeanne creates one-of-a kind, individually crafted mugs that serve as the grand prize for each of the four categories in the contest. And she has been doing so for as long as I can remember – possibly all 21 years.

Additionally, Write On Door County – and particularly, Jerod Santek – whose involvement has allowed us to attract nationally recognized final judges and to provide week-long stays at Write On’s retreat house to the overall winners in the writing categories and our writing judges.

And finally, a note about the photo of my mother and father featured in this issue. This is their engagement photo taken by my mother and then shrewdly used to do double duty as part of her photography class requirements her senior year at Northwestern (my Dad was a graduate teaching assistant at Northwestern, finishing his PhD in English Literature).

My mother positioned the camera (which used glass plates), made all the appropriate settings, posed my father, struck her pose, and my Grandpa Grutzmacher, clicked the shutter.

The best part of the photo story, however, is that she developed the photograph herself, sharing the darkroom with her “lab” partner, Yul Brynner. And according to my mother, when she hung the photo to dry in the darkroom, Brynner looked it over and said, “Very nice photo, Miss Andersen.”

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