FM Golden Notes Band surprises founder with a serenade by the ferris wheel

FARGO -- To honor the founder of a Fargo band and a man who makes people's world go round -- literally -- a "flash mob" descended on Scheels sporting goods store for a surprise serenade on Tuesday, Aug. 7.

FARGO - To honor the founder of a Fargo band and a man who makes people's world go round - literally - a "flash mob" descended on Scheels sporting goods store for a surprise serenade on Tuesday, Aug. 7.

Jim Kinlaw founded in 2005 the FM Golden Notes Band, a local chapter of the national New Horizons Bands organization for people 50 years and older who used to play, or have never played an instrument.

That was the case for Kinlaw, who first learned to play the saxophone that year at the youthful age of 65. More than a decade later, the show goes on, and that's all Kinlaw ever hoped for.

"That's all I wanted, my No. 1 goal, " Kinlaw said. "I started the group to last forever and I think we've done that."

A few weeks ago, Kinlaw celebrated his 78th birthday, which falls each year around Fourth of July festivities. "Patriotic is in my blood," he said with a laugh.

The Louisiana-native and 20-year Navy veteran has been retired since 1977. He's been running the ferris wheel a few days a week at Scheels for the past nine years and lives with his wife, Judy, in south Fargo.

When the band thought of the idea to thank Kinlaw for forming Golden Notes and to wish him a belated birthday, they contacted Scheels, which got behind the idea.

Like clockwork, Kinlaw approached the ferris wheel for his Tuesday shift at 5 p.m. carrying a black cane and wearing matching suspenders and a "Certified Ferris Wheel Operator" shirt.

Conductor Pete Schiefelbein then cued the band to play 'Happy Birthday' for Kinlaw, who looked up with wide eyes and mouth agaped.

Schiefelbein said Kinlaw always told the band they could stop by for a ride, but the Golden Notes wanted to "catch him off guard."

"Now you have to give us all rides," Schiefelbein shouted to Kinlaw after the special performance

Clarinetist Alexia Kieffer said she was part of Golden Notes from the very beginning.

"It changed my life," she said. "It gave me the courage to volunteer at school and help band students."

Asked what she thought about Kinlaw, Kieffer said, "Oh, he's a gem."

Assistant store leader Brandon Moser said that Kinlaw is "one of the nicest gentleman you'll meet." Other store associates in crisp white button-up shirts anxiously waited for Kinlaw's arrival Tuesday for the big surprise.

The band of about 20 people soon packed up their instruments and lined up for a spin on the flashy store centerpiece that Kinlaw said he absolutely loves operating for customers and friends - of all ages.

"Any requests?" asked Bill Kitzman on the concertina.

To which Kinlaw quipped: "Carnival music, of course."