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Villarreal family 'arrested' for Turkey Day

WORTHINGTON -- As Maria Villarreal pulled off the entrance ramp from I-90 and headed south on Humiston Avenue, the sight of a squad car with its lights flashing surprised her.

WORTHINGTON -- As Maria Villarreal pulled off the entrance ramp from I-90 and headed south on Humiston Avenue, the sight of a squad car with its lights flashing surprised her.

"What did I do wrong?" she said to her husband Hector, who was in the passenger seat.

She soon found out. Sgt. Jason Beckmann climbed out of the squad car and approached her car. He informed Maria she hadn't done anything wrong -- she had been pulled over to take part in the King Turkey Day Arrest-a-Guest program. She and her family had been chosen to be special guests of the City of Worthington for the festivities.

Hector and Maria have lived in Heron Lake with their son Onyx for less than a year, having moved from Laredo, Texas.

"We've been hearing about this turkey day stuff on the radio, but didn't know what it was," Maria said. "A friend told me they bowl with frozen turkeys."

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When told she and her family would be staying at the Dayton House, she admitted she didn't know what that was.

As Becky Berning, chairman of the marketing committee of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, explained about the Dayton House and its history, the smiles on the Villarreals' faces got bigger.

When told about the ride in the parade in a convertible, Maria exclaimed, "Oh my!"

The Villarreals were escorted to lunch by Robert J. and Betty Demuth, who will continue to escort the family throughout the day today.

They received a two-night stay at the Dayton House, a bouquet from McCarthy's Floral, a fruit basket from Hy-Vee and another basket with an assortment of gifts from local merchants.

There was a reception at the Dayton House on Friday, followed by a chance to meet with the race team in the beer garden.

During lunch Friday, Robert J. Demuth answered Hector's questions about the origins of King Turkey Day.

"I don't know anything about it," Hector confessed.

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Maria sat nearby occupying 21-month-old Onyx and chatting with Betty and Berning.

"This is so weird," Maria said. "It's exciting!"

Maria works for Worthington Specialty Clinic, while Hector is the assistant manager of the new General Dollar Store.

The path to finding guests to arrest was a little rockier this year than usual. It took Beckmann, Berning and committee member Roxann Polzine more than two hours to find the perfect guests to detain, but in the end everyone was happy.

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