Local Current Blog

Photos: Henderson (‘That ain’t Lake Minnetonka’), Minnesota celebrates Prince

Photos by Mansoor Ahmad for MPR

When you think of Prince and Minnesota, the cities of Minneapolis and Chanhassen probably spring to mind, but the small town of Henderson (pop. 900) also occupies a crucial niche in purple lore. Henderson, an hour’s drive southwest of First Avenue, is the site where Prince and Apollonia filmed their iconic outdoor romp for Purple Rain. Prince was right, that ain’t Lake Minnetonka: it’s a stretch of the Minnesota River.

This past weekend, the town celebrated its Prince connection with a three-day celebration that saw the unveiling of a mural, a bench, and other markers of Henderson’s Hollywood history.

Prince fans get ready to board the bus for a tour of the Purple Rain film location sites.

The tour bus passes by the “Purple Rain Route” street sign. Part of Henderson Station Road, which goes across Highway 169, underwent a honorary naming during the three-day celebration.

The newly installed “Purple Rain Route” street sign.

Joel King, who worked as a camera operator on Prince’s Graffiti Bridge (1990), leads the tour group to the filming location of the “Lake Minnetonka” scene across a pair of purple wooden boards laid over a small brook.

King points in the direction of the backdrop that was featured in the “Lake Minnetonka” scene in Purple Rain.

King shows a photo of a young Prince to the tourists at the location of the “Lake Minnetonka” scene.

Fans of Prince take photos at the site of the “Lake Minnetonka” scene from Purple Rain.

The location of the infamous “Lake Minnetonka” scene from Purple Rain.

A fan wearing a Paisley Park hoodie leaves the tour bus and heads for the Prince mural.

In memory of Prince: the mural in downtown Henderson pays homage to the legendary Minnesotan.

Moises Suriel, the mural’s artist, poses for photo in front of the mural.

Joel King and Martin Kember, former lead singer of Color Me Badd, share a joyful moment during the celebration.

“Prince Place” and “Purple Rain” signage installed outside the Henderson Event Center.

The Prince memorial bench in downtown Henderson.

The mural painted in honor of Prince’s 60th birthday.

A local shop selling “Purple Rain Jelly Beans” in downtown Henderson.

Purple Rain-inspired products on display in downtown Henderson.

Prince memorabilia advertised outside a shop in Henderson.

The Planetmasters perform at the Prince celebration.

Prince-related art on sale at an artist booth at the Henderson Event Center.

The Henderson Event Center was packed for a long evening of celebration.

The Tony Flynn Project performs during the celebration.

A fan gets her photo taken with Suriel, who painted the mural.