By Jennifer Kotila
DASSEL, MN Dassel resident Nancy Larson has been named the 2010 Red Rooster parade grand marshal.
This year is the 25th anniversary of the Red Rooster Day’s parade, and Larson played an important role in getting the parade started.
Larson moved to the Dassel area in 1972, with her husband Merle and their family. Larson and Merle were married in 1961, and they have four children, Patrick, Andrew, Viky and Melisa.
“When I first moved to Dassel, there were no parades,” she said.
Having grown up in a small town on the Iron Range, Larson felt that, “you can’t have a small town without a parade.”
Because Larson was a stay-at-home mom when her children were young, she was able to be active in the local community. In 1976, Larson was the chair of the activities committee for the country’s bicentennial.
The bicentennial activities committee planned one event a month for the bicentennial year. The parade that year would take place on Red Rooster Day.
For the first parade, Larson said that “no one knew how to do a parade.” The bicentennial activities committee did what they could.
They made some floats, found cars for the politicians to ride in, called people to be in the parade, and wrote all the stories for the paper. With all of their efforts, they were able to pull it off and get people to the parade.
Between 1976 and 1985, Dassel would sporadically have parades sometime in the summer, according to Larson.
Larson stated they could not get the DC marching band to participate in the parades during that time period, because it was after their regular season.
Finally in 1985, the Red Rooster parade became a staple for Red Rooster Day events. “They found out that people did have the time to do a parade [that weekend],” she said.
Larson said she is really pleased. “I think parades are a great thing for the community. They help generate pride and enthusiasm and help people feel more a part of the community. It brings people together and that’s important.”
According to Dassel Area Historical Society Director Carolyn Holje, over the years, Red Rooster Day has gradually expanded to cover the whole weekend, becoming Red Rooster Days.
After Larson’s children were older, Larson worked part-time at the Enterprise Dispatch and as a nurse’s aid before going back to school in 1983. She attended St. Cloud State University and graduated in 1988, with degrees in mass communications/public relations and political science.
While attending SCSU, Larson interned at the St. Cloud Times as a reporter. She also interned for Minnesota Senate majority leader Roger Moe.
Larson has run for office several times. In 1992, she ran for Minnesota House against Bob Ness, losing to him by only 41 votes.
Larson ran for Luetenant Governor in 1994 with John Marty. They were up against Arnie Carlson, whom they lost to.
Larson once again ran for office in 1998. She ran for state auditor against Judy Dutcher.
For the last 22 years, Larson has been working as a lobbyist. For 18 years, she lobbied for, and was then executive director for the Minnesota Association of Small Cities, which includes Dassel and Cokato. She was responsible for lobying congress for local government aid, land use, and economic development for small communities, among other things.
Larson now lobbies for a lobbying firm whose main client is the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. This coalition covers cities such as Litchfield and Hutchinson and other larger cities in rural Minnesota.