In the next two weeks, just under 400 Jefferson Elementary students and their teachers will visit The Mahanay Bell Tower, Thomas Jefferson Gardens, Sally’s Alley, and the newest plaza sculptures in Downtown Jefferson. What a great way to end the school year!
The Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower will open for the 2022 season on Sunday, May 1 from 10 am – 4 pm. The Bell Tower Staff is ready to tell the story about the Mahanays and this unique bell tower. An elevator ride takes visitors to the Paul Nally Observation deck which is all glass enclosed. From there, a clear view of the surrounding countryside and the beautiful downtown always brings a lot of discussion of what can be seen.
Rooftop art has been installed on five rooftops, each with a story of their own. Another installation will begin this summer on Peony Chinese Restaurant by artist Dana Hamilton.
Of course, the 47 bells chime the Westminster Chimes throughout the day and several songs are played digitally on the bells after each hour. Visitors enjoy hearing the bells in the Tower but they can also be heard all over the community.
This unique attraction was named the 2021 Rural Tourism Attraction by Iowa Tourism. Admission is just $3 for adults and free to youth 18 and under in 2022 through a sponsorship by the Lois & Dean McAtee Trust.
Hours for the month of May are Saturday and Sunday from 10 am -4 pm. and then daily beginning Memorial Day weekend from 10 am – 4 pm. Appointments for other times can be made by calling The Welcome Center at 515-386-2155.
The dedication of the Mahanay Bell Tower took place 55 years ago in 1966, and each year it is a time to celebrate. A Tower Tunes Live Birthday Concert will be played Saturday, Oct. 16, from 12:15 – 12:30 pm. Local Mahanay Maestro Sheryl Sloan will perform her favorite music on the carillon for the community to enjoy.
Bell Tower Foundation board members will hand out special birthday treats to the first 55 in-person listeners. Ding-Dongs and a penny for the penny souvenir press will be distributed on the plaza or to those listening from their vehicles. The penny press is located in the lobby area of the Tower.
The Mahanay Bell Tower has moved to October regular hours of Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. Youth age 18 and younger can ride the elevator to the top at no charge courtesy of Rotary Club of Jefferson. Adults pay $3 to ride to the observation deck.
Covid precautions are in still in place with masks optional for the comfort level of the visitors and staff. Limited numbers allow for social distancing in the elevator and observation deck.
Visitors may also call for an appointment for during the week by calling the Jefferson Matters: A Main Street & Chamber Community office at 515-386-2155.
The Tower Tunes Live Concerts are live concerts played on the carillon by local musicians known as Mahanay Maestros. The Maestros select their own music for the 15 minute concert presented daily from 12:15 – 12:30 pm. The genres range from hymns to Disney! Visitors never know what will be played. Some of the musicians select a theme that may give listeners a chance to “know their tunes” as they play from a certain composer or theme such as “love songs”. We encourage listeners to listen from a block away to hear the full effect of all of the bells. There is seating available on the Bell Tower Plaza too. We appreciate the Mahanay Maestro volunteers as they share their musical talents for the community to enjoy. These concerts will not be presented on Facebook Live because of copyright laws for music. Please plan to come in person to hear these special concerts.