Local business owners rally to support Eli Hart on his birthday

MUNDER, Minnesota — Friends and family honored the life of Eli Hart this week.

Thursday is Eli’s 7th birthday.

Eli was allegedly killed by his mother, Julissa Thayer, in May.

Her trial is still ongoing.

Friends and community members gathered at Back Channel Brewing on Thursday night to remember Eli.

The event is also part of a fundraiser to build a playground in Eli’s memory.

Several local businesses have pledged to donate 10 percent of their sales to help the cause, including Back Channel Brewing, Carbone’s Pizza in Mound, Culver’s in Navarra and Ooh La La Boutique.

At Carbone’s Pizza in the Mound, many people are still heartbroken over the loss of Eli Hart.

“When they found out what was going on, a lot of our servers were affected because they remembered Eli coming here with his dad,” said owner Matt Willette.

This connection is why Willette has a strong need to help the family in any way she can.

“It’s an absolute yes,” Willette said.

“We thought it would be a great opportunity for the community to come together.”

Organizers of the family nonprofit met at Carbone’s Thursday morning to discuss playground design concepts.

They hope to get renderings as soon as possible.

But they say the playground will definitely include Eli’s favorite horizontal bar, which should cost around $200,000.

Tana Denarvaez of Ooh La La Boutique said building a new playground was an appropriate way to honor Eli.

She said the playground at Surfside Park in the Mound was getting old and needed an upgrade.

“We’ll definitely take our kids there to laugh and have a good time and make sure we celebrate Eli,” Denarvaez said.

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