1959 Editorial: 19th annual Turkey Day: Cooperation keyChilly fall skies greeted today’s 19th annual edition of King Turkey Day in Worthington. But even with the less than ideal weather break, a host of leading program attractions promised to make the day both memorable and exciting.
An editorial from the Sept. 16, 1959, Daily Globe:
Chilly fall skies greeted today’s 19th annual edition of King Turkey Day in Worthington. But even with the less than ideal weather break, a host of leading program attractions promised to make the day both memorable and exciting.
The traditional Turkey Day favorite — the mammoth, two-hour Turkey Day parade — was all set to roll at 1:15 p.m. The parade, featuring 27 bands, 29 queens and scores of floats, was made even more spectacular this year through the innovation of float themes and increased originality in float design. Minnesota’s Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey, now a national figure in his own right and a leading aspirant for the Democratic presidential nomination, was scheduled to speak at 12:15. Other Turkey Day attractions — the free pancakes and coffee, children’s races, quarter-midget auto races and the new variety show — all promised to offer the thousands of visitors from northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota an enjoyable outing.
People seeing a Turkey Day celebration for the first time often ask how a small city like Worthington can keep on, year after year, putting on a fall festival of this caliber. It’s a truly “big show” and a mammoth undertaking from beginning to end.
The answer as to how it is done can be summed up in one word: cooperation. Not hundreds, but literally thousands of individuals are directly involved in staging each year’s events. Almost every one of them is a volunteer, and all of them offer their services for just one reason: to make the big day a big success.
For this reason, it is not surprising to find competing businessmen washing dishes elbow-to-elbow in the pancake tent. Officers of rival political parties work together in securing the featured speaker. One year the speaker may be a Republican, the next year, a Democrat. In either event, both parties do their best to secure a leading speaker of national prominence. The result has been that Worthington over the years has played host to presidential and vice presidential candidates, the vice president himself one year, numerous cabinet officials and governors and U.S. senators.
The “cooperation” theme is carried out on a community–wide and area-wide basis. Hundreds of area school children and their instructors annually take part as marching band units in the parade. It takes a lot of planning to move a high school band to another town for a parade. As we mentioned earlier, 27 area communities will have their bands featured in this year’s parade.
From our own community, Turkey Day manpower is volunteered from all walks of life. Boy Scouts have been busy for several weeks selling Turkey Day buttons — and they have worked hard. On Turkey Day itself, members of the local Minnesota National Guard company spend long hours on the pavement, helping to move traffic, assisting visitors and clearing the parade route. The Clown Club is just one of the numerous special Turkey Day organizations which play an important part in the celebration. The club is busy months ahead of Turkey Day, planning costumes and routines. City police on both days of the event have a big job to do. Getting the route cleared for the torchlight parade is just one of their responsibilities.
Each of the separate Turkey Day events — from the big variety show to the midget auto races — requires its own planning staff and manpower. Church concession stands contribute much to the success of the day, and there’s a lot of work involved here, too.
The job of Turkey Day general chairman, ably filled again this year by Harry Sowles, in probably the biggest individual contribution. The members of the Chamber staff, manger Wendell Maltby and secretary Marvel Heldt, also have large responsibilities.
These people will point out, however, that their success all depends upon the work of volunteers — and “cooperation.”
King Turkey Day has been going on a long time now — for 19 years since its beginning in 1939. Each year it has managed to grow. Each year there are more attractions — and more duties for those who plan them. And each year, the big festival seems to become even more firmly rooted as a traditional part of the area scene.