Nye's Polonaise Room refused to die. Or, rather, its regulars refused to let it die.
After announcements that the Minneapolis fixture, opened in 1951, would close its doors, the polka and piano bar kept pushing back the date of its final night. First, it was said to be closing "sometime in 2015." Then a farewell party was planned for late that summer.
Then they scrapped that plan, and pushed back the closing until sometime this year.
That final date finally came this past weekend. Nye's is, really, for real closed now. You cannot go in there and get a beer. The door's locked. Some day soon, it will be torn down and turned into an apartment complex. Some day soon we will all be torn down and turned into an apartment complex.
For now, though, we have memories of songs sung with high spirits. Sometimes that meant an individual patron had a gift that quieted the crowd. Sometimes it meant the whole bar felt the need to sing along.
That's what happened a couple hours after midnight Sunday night, as a crowd of loyalists came to close down the bar one last time. They turned over the microphone to 84-year-old Vera Strandmark, a Richfield native and a Nye's regular, who got to pick the last tune: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." She started it. Eventually, they were all singing.
"I love you all," she said, when it was over. "Good night."