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Love a parade

WORTHINGTON -- While Worthington area residents, along with guests from far and wide, navigate through a swirl of events during the annual King Turkey Day (KTD) festivities, for many people it's the Grand Parade at 2 p.m. Saturday that cannot be missed.

And it's often the spectacular marching bands that attendees claim is their favorite part of the parade.

"Who doesn't like a good band, especially in a parade?" queried Chad Cummings, one of the KTD parade's co-chairs this year. "And how many parades around here feature nine different bands? It just doesn't happen much."

Confirmed Darlene Macklin, executive director of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, "Our King Turkey Day parade is one of the largest parades in southwest Minnesota, and it brings many additional people to our community -- some who come each year from as far as 75 miles away just to see it.

"The parade should be especially good this year."

Joining Cummings as 2012 KTD parade co-chair is Nancy Johnson, a Worthington native who has attended KTD since she was a little girl and has volunteered with the KTD parade committee for more years than she's counted.

"I love the whole community aspect of King Turkey Day, and I see it as one way I can give back to the community," said Johnson, a teacher at St. Mary's School in Worthington. "My brother and brother-in-law were on the King Turkey Day board in the past, and I was on the race team for two years, so this has been a big part of my life for a long time."

Having spent many years at "parade headquarters" lining up parade entries small and large, Johnson knows it takes a lot of people to bring the event to life each September.

"We have volunteers who ride motorcycles down the street to help clear it and keep people at the curb for safety, and there are at least 10 people actively managing the parade," detailed Johnson. "It takes quite a few people to get it together."

Cummings and Johnson are both delighted with the nine bands that Jon Loy, KTD parade band coordinator, has lined up for Saturday.

"We're very happy to welcome back the Adrian Dragons marching band," said Cummings, "and the Worthington High School reunion band will be a highlight.

"There will be a huge focus on bands, and they are an incredible part of the parade."

The 155-member Northern State University Marching Wolves of Aberdeen, S.D., are coming, as is the Brookings High School band, whose 120-member ranks are similar to those of the hometown favorite Worthington High School Trojan marching band.

"Jon Loy has really recruited a lot of bands, and has been very helpful from a logistics standpoint," Johnson said. "He hopped on board, and it's been great."

The WHS reunion band will be seen early in the parade (slated at #6), while the large Worthington Middle School sixth- through eighth-grade marching band, directed by Mike Andersen, will march to "Star Wars" shortly thereafter.

Other bands scheduled to strut their stuff before KTD parade-goers include a steel drum band and those from West Central High School of Hartford, S.D., Central Lyon Middle School of Rock Rapids, Iowa, and Fulda High School.

Two band judges from the Twin Cities will rate the guest parade bands as they pass through the parade judging area in front of Sanford Regional Worthington -- a site that's a sure bet to hear and see the bands perform their shows along the parade route.

At 4:30 p.m., following the Grand Parade, three of the participating bands -- Brookings, NSU and West Central -- will perform a free field show exhibition at Trojan Field. Concessions will be available for purchase, and the event will also serve as the parade band competition awards ceremony.

"Our student band commanders will present the awards, as we are the host band," explained Loy. "The field show opportunity helps these bands get ready for their first major field show competitions, and the parade in general is a great way for bands to kick off their fall seasons.

"We're grateful for area band participation, because it takes a major effort to outfit and travel with a band," added Loy.

Of course, there's more to the KTD parade than bands.

"A lot of people and organizations put time and thought into their floats, and it's always interesting to see what they come up with," said Cummings, who has also been the parade announcer for most of the past decade.

"And this is a major election year, with county, state and national offices at stake, so there will be a fair share of politicians present and a lot of baby-holding, kisses and hand shakes on the parade route -- as well as candy," assured Cummings.

Johnson notes that the KTD grand parade, and KTD in general, could not go on without the indefatigable efforts of Macklin and her Chamber of Commerce staff, including Ashley Goettig and Alicia Jensen.

"They're very supportive, they're the ones who type up everything, send it all out and keep us organized and on our toes," said Johnson. "They're the key to making possible the whole parade -- and the whole festival. They're right on top of things."

Johnson and Cummings are optimistic that, come rain or shine, the KTD parade will be a success. With a long-range forecast predicting sunny skies and a high of 74 degrees, it's fairly certain spectators will be comfortable.

"Seeing everyone that has shown up for the parade, with people looking pretty content and happy if we did our job right -- that's what makes it satisfying for me," said Johnson.

Added Cummings, "I love, love, love King Turkey Day."