August 13, 2007

Petersons to lead this year's parade

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Born and raised in Cokato, George and Violet Peterson have been known for generations as community activists.

With George’s help from the first Corn Carnival, to Violet’s continued support, it’s no wonder the two are this year’s grand marshals.

“The grand marshal is a ceremonial position that, in effect, leads the parade and is a position of distinction and honor,” said Mike Worcester, Cokato Corn Carnival committee member.

With long-standing ties to the community and the Corn Carnival itself, the Corn Carnival Committee chose the Petersons as a way of thanking them for making significant contributions to the community.

The Petersons consider this title to be an honor, although George doesn’t see himself worthy. Violet was particularly happy to receive a parasol for the parade that Butch Amundsen provided.

The first Corn Carnival was organized by Cokato business owners as a way of thanking their customers and the public for its support after World War II, in 1950.

George, in a sense, was roped into helping get the carnival ready. His boss at the time, Carl Swanson, was on the original committee. The carnival was in need of a corn stand and Swanson gave George the job.

From that point on, George was involved with the corn-eating operation, which the job was later handed down to Mark Peterson, his son.

“If it wasn’t for the donated corn, we wouldn’t be able to have the carnival,” George said.

From the beginning, the Cokato’s carnival had free donated corn.

For George, the Corn Carnival is a time of for people gathering under a clean atmosphere.

Violet likes seeing the people come home specifically for the carnival. “I enjoy seeing everybody,” she said.

Throughout the years, the Petersons have seen Cokato’s changing face. For example, George remembers when the town had eight grocery stores; now it’s down to one.

He also remembers a time before the war when stores were open at night and the streets of Cokato were bustling.

“There was a lot more loyalty,” George said.

Up until 1985, the Petersons owned Swanson Peterson Furniture so they were one of the businesses that were open in downtown.

Violet became his helper after their son, Mark, went off to college.

One of their highlights of living in Cokato was when they knew everyone, where they lived, and who was in each household.

Now, although times have changed along with the city, George and Violet appreciate what they have.

“I have a lot to be thankful for,” George said.

One can see Violet and George leading the parade tonight for the start of this year’s Corn Carnival festivities.

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