- Associated Press - Monday, August 22, 2016

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) - Visitors to Yankton’s Memorial Park Swimming Pool might be greeted with the unexpected - live music.

Throughout the summer, pool worker Logan Haak has been playing his ukulele in the pool concession stand, and the impromptu performances have struck a chord with kids and fellow city employees, the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan (https://bit.ly/2byLco8 ). For many, Haak has become a symbol of positivity.

“He’s going above and beyond by adding a little extra joy, providing entertainment for the kids that are there and really adding to the experience of the pool,” said Amy Nelson, Yankton city manager. “I think that’s really cool and speaks to the caliber of the person he is.”

Haak, a 2016 Yankton High School graduate, is currently the cashier manager at the pool. He said he began bringing his ukulele to work this summer after he purchased it from Amazon.

“This happened when one of my buddies texted me and said, ‘I just bought this ukulele,’” Haak said. “So I was giving him a hard time, saying ‘Dude, that’s so lame!’ But then I was like, ‘You know what? That might be fun!’ So then I bought one. I couldn’t put it down after that.”

Wanting to find a way to pass the time at work, he decided to start strumming on his new ukulele as he stood in the pool concession stand.

“I hate sitting on my phone all day, so I brought this along,” he said as he motioned to his ukulele. “I don’t technically know how to play (the ukulele), but I just strum on it. All the kids started gathering around. And I thought, ‘Hey, I’m glad they like it. I’m glad somebody enjoys it!’”

He said he’s come to realize that his performances can positively impact others.

“Some of these kids don’t have the best place to go home to, so it’s good they can have something to enjoy,” he said. “That’s what I get out of it. I never thought I would get that out of something so simple.”

It didn’t take long for other people to notice the effect Haak’s ukulele jams had on the pool environment. Word about the employee’s spontaneous performances quickly spread.

“I don’t exactly know what happened,” he said. “Somebody took a video of me and sent it downtown, saying, ‘You got to see this kid!’ I wasn’t really sure what was becoming of it.”

Nelson said she first learned about the musically-inclined employee at a city management meeting.

“One of the things we’ve been talking about is positive energy and fueling ourselves with that energy and the difference that can make in our community,” she said. “Logan came up as an example of that.”

She said she believes everyone, including herself, can learn from Haak.

“In terms of the city, Logan has really inspired me to find my proverbial ukulele - to find the thing I can do to make people in our community experience Yankton in a positive way,” she said. “Maybe there’s something I can do to make something a little bit better in our community. It’s inspiring and a real teaching tool for me, and an example of how I have all these employees that I learn from every day.”

Nelson hoped community members would drop by the pool to see Haak’s positive example in action.

“I wanted to make sure other people were made aware and did get it called to their attention because I think those things make a big difference and a big impact,” she said. “We only have a short time while the pool is yet open, so before we close, come down and see Logan and the gift that he gives to the public when he’s working.”

But if community members can’t find the time to see Haak perform yet this summer, they might have an opportunity during summer 2017. Despite the fact that Haak is moving to Brookings to attend SDSU in the fall, he plans on returning to Yankton to work at the pool during his summer break.

“I’ll be here for the next couple summers I think,” he said. “There are great people to work with. We have a great big city family.”

And if he returns, Haak said he plans to keep strumming away on his ukulele.

“I love it, and obviously people seem to enjoy it, so I love that part, too,” he said with a smile.


Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan, https://www.yankton.net/

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