KTD to be celebrated today for 78th time

WORTHINGTON -- "Keep calm and gobble on." That's this year's official King Turkey Day slogan, and organizers will do their best to heed those words today in spite of a less-than-ideal forecast as Worthington celebrates its 78th annual KTD extrava...

Cassie and Aaron Sakahara of Sacramento, Calif., are shown Friday with King Turkey Day Parade Marshal Roxann Polzine (far left) and Honorary Turkey Rick von Holdt (far right) after being "arrested" as part of KTD's annual arrest-a-guest program. For more details, see Saturday's print edition and (Ryan McGaughey/The Globe)


WORTHINGTON - “Keep calm and gobble on.”

That’s this year’s official King Turkey Day slogan, and organizers will do their best to heed those words today in spite of a less-than-ideal forecast as Worthington celebrates its 78th annual KTD extravaganza.

Special activities begin this morning downtown, including the YMCA 5K Race/Family Fun Walk at 8:30 a.m., the free pancake breakfast from 9 a.m. to noon and the 10K that begins at 10 a.m. A host of children’s activities will begin at 10 a.m. around downtown, and the Arc of Minnesota Southwest Lollipop Jaunt is at 10:05 a.m. A full slate of King Turkey Day events can be viewed here .

As of Friday afternoon, today’s weather forecast called for an 80 percent of showers and thunderstorms. King Turkey Day Board President Jamie Salinas said organizers hadn’t spoken much about the possibility of wet weather, and that a wait-and-see approach was being taken for today.


Fans of Paycheck will -  hopefully - not need to wait much past 1:30 p.m. to see how Worthington’s beloved racing bird fares against rival Ruby Begonia of Cuero, Texas. The first leg of the Great Gobbler Gallop will follow the featured speaker, Worthington native Paul Ten Haken (now of Sioux Falls, S.D.), who is scheduled to begin addressing the KTD crowd at 1 p.m.

The Grand Parade, as always, is slated to start at 2 p.m. Among the usual array of bands and floats, the trailer carrying Hurricane Harvey relief items for Cuero residents will roll through, and parade attendees may contribute canned food items for accompanying grocery carts.

Multiple family activities are also scheduled after the parade. In short, there’s plenty of fun to be gobbled up by people of all ages.

Special honorees As has become custom, this year’s King Turkey Day Honorary Turkey and Parade Marshal were recognized during Thursday night’s KTD mixer at Pioneer Village. First to be surprised was Roxann Polzine, Parade Marshal.

“During King Turkey Day, (Polzine) always books a room at one of Worthington’s fine hotels to help out where needed,” Salinas said in his announcement while listing multiple other contributions. Polzine has volunteered for several community organizations through the years and is often recognized as the woman who assists visitors and points them in the direction of Worthington’s many amenities at the rest area south of Worthington.

Polzine, who expressed genuine surprise at her recognition, was asked by Salinas what she likes best about KTD.

“The people,” she quickly responded. “Everybody is so happy everyday through the whole weekend.”

Polzine has rallied strongly after suffering multiple strokes in April 2016, and still continues to make service to Worthington - and its big weekend - a top priority in her life.


“I was supposed to have surgery last week on my knee, but I told the doc I had to wait until after Turkey Day,” she said, adding that she was thankful to be honored and that she hoped to “do you proud.”

Moments after Polzine’s recognition, Salinas announced Rick von Holdt as Honorary Turkey. Salinas noted von Holdt’s long-time commitment to the local fire department, as well as ambulance and EMS crews, adding he “wears his heart on his sleeve when it comes to helping others. … you won’t find anyone who’d care more.”

“I’m at a loss for words,” said a surprised von Holdt, who has been chief of the WFD for 16 years. “I’m honored, and I’m speechless. Thank you.”

‘Arrest-a-guest’ continues Cassie Hurlbut Sakahara grew up in Worthington and is well familiar with King Turkey Day and the arrest-a-guest tradition. She never suspected, though, that she might someday get “arrested” herself.

Sakahara and her husband, Aaron, who reside in Sacramento, Calif., will get to spend Friday and Saturday evenings in a Worthington hotel and be guests of honor at multiple KTD activities. Each year, at least one out-of-town visitor is pulled over by local law enforcement on the Friday before King Turkey Day and “sentenced” to a weekend of fun here in southwest Minnesota.

“We’d just made a trip back because it’s been almost a year,” said Sakahara, the daughter of Allen and Brenda Hurlbut of Worthington. “It’s usually a great time of year to come back.”

Last year, in fact, was the first time Sakahara had been back for King Turkey Day for roughly 10 years. It was also her husband’s initial KTD.

“I’d just heard a lot about it, and the first experience (with it) was great,” he said.


On Friday morning, Sakahara was pulling into the Schwalbach Ace Hardware parking lot when she got stopped by police.

“I was caught off guard,” she said, adding that “I didn’t know I did anything wrong.”

That wasn’t exactly what Sakahara’s father thought when he first heard about the traffic stop.

“I figured Cassie did something wrong,” Allen Hurlbut said. “She’s been pulled over before.”

Those comments brought laughter to those gathered inside the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce Friday morning, and no doubt more fun will follow. The Sakaharas will ride in today’s parade, be special guests at this morning’s mayoral brunch and much more.

Medallion found Wednesday A mother-daughter duo shared in the glory Wednesday afternoon of locating the King Turkey Day medallion and will share $100 in Chamber bucks awarded by the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce.

Shirly Wieme found the medallion over the noon hour Wednesday, but she couldn’t have done so without the assistance of daughter Jill Cuperus.

“She’s the one that gave me the clues, so I said I’d split this with her,” Wieme said of the prize.

On Wednesday morning, Wieme said she searched for the medallion unsuccessfully along 10th Street. The word “time” in the second medallion clue, for instance, had led her to the clock located near the corner of 10th Street and Fifth Avenue, but Cuperus would soon guide her in a better direction.

“With the word ‘permits’ … I thought of City Hall,” Cuperus said, also referencing the second medallion clue. “And there was talking about the construction and the Government Center was getting construction done, so I figured that was it. … There was also ‘corner me neatly’ (in clue three), so I thought it had to be on a corner.”

After Cuperus and Wieme spoke Wednesday morning, Wieme went to check out her daughter’s suggested location.

“I found it at City Hall in a flower pot right outside the door,” Wieme said. “It was just stuck there in the middle of the pot.”

The first three clues were published on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as in Wednesday’s print edition. Here are all of the clues - including those for Thursday and Friday that proved to be unneeded.


Clue 1

It's time again for King Turkey Day

So everyone come out and play!

A race, some games, and lots to do

A medallion to find, and it could be YOU!

Is in a park, or maybe downtown?

Hunt that cool medallion down!

Look up and down and even the middle,

To find it, you have to solve the riddle.

Clue 2

If time permits, be sure to search

Make sure you don't get left in the lurch.

The city is prepping for King Turkey Day,

Despite the construction that gets in the way.

Clue 3

Decide for yourself just where I've been keeping;

In the distance I hear things beep beep beeping.

Hunt me down and corner me neatly,

Snatch me from where I'm sitting discreetly.

Clue 4

Have you travelled for miles, just searching for me?

Officials walk past and don't even see;

The trees are scarce where I abide,

I keep my council while I hide.

Clue 5

Have you been looking? Step up your game.

The one on the right looks just the same.

I'm nestled in tight, surrounded by clay,

Ready to celebrate King Turkey Day.

King Turkey Day Board of Directors President Jaime Salinas (from left) stands with Shirly Wieme and Jill Cuperus on Wednesday after the finding of the King Turkey Day medallion. Also shown is Cuperus' son, Lawson. (Ryan McGaughey/The Globe)

Ryan McGaughey arrived in Worthington in April 2001 as sports editor of The Daily Globe, and first joined Forum Communications Co. upon his hiring as a sports reporter at The Dickinson (North Dakota) Press in November 1998. McGaughey became news editor in Worthington in November 2002 and editor in August 2006.
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