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Back and Forth: United Way's campaign, Marigold Days start tomorrow

"Be the Change" is the encouraging theme for this year's United Way of Olmsted County fundraising drive, which kicks off Friday in an event from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Kahler Grand Hotel's Heritage Hall. This has been the site of many United Way breakfasts through the years.

With the emphasis on education, income, health and basic family needs, the United Way works to improve lives in the communities of Olmsted County. Tomorrow's "high energy" hour is led by retired educator Don Supalla, the campaign chairman for 2014. "Be the Change" will ring out as this retired Rochester Community and Technical College president and long-time educator will introduce the keynote speaker, Dr. Brenda Cassellius, Minnesota Education commissioner. She'll discuss the importance of investing in early learning and how it impacts K-12 and higher education.

Cassellius is an alumna of the Head Start Program, which is part of United Way's Success by 6 collaborative. The Success By 6 partners are: Byron Community Education, Child Care Resource and Referral, Civic League Day Nursery, Good News Children's Center, Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Rochester Public Library and ServeMinnesota-Reading Corps.

As Cassellius speaks on "The Importance of Early Childhood Education" she'll likely point out the 10th anniversary of United Way collaborating with preschool programs, including in recent weeks when 430 volunteers helped distribute 3,605 school backpacks loaded with school supplies at the RCTC field house.

"This was our real Running Start for School, as we partnered with businesses and organizations all over Olmsted County," said Matthew Knutson, United Way's communications and events director.


Our United Way has come a long way since 1925, when several Rochester business leaders created a community fund drive to help many in need. During the past nine decades, other names were used to describe such fund drives, such as Community Chest and Red Feather Campaign. This year's goal will be in the neighborhood of $4 million dollars, which is to be officially announced tomorrow. You can "BE THE CHANGE."

Marigold Days in Mantorville

Also starting tomorrow afternoon in Mantorville is the 49th annual Marigold Days, which continues through Sunday. I'm pleased to share the story of the late Walt Bruzek who started Marigold Days in 1965. Walt became a friend of everyone he met. At that time he was the promotions man for Marigold Dairies, creating radio ads for area stations. I recall his visiting Radio KAAA in Red Wing in the mid-1950s with a disc of commercials. His voice did the ads. He encouraged Marigold Dairies (today, Kemp's) to pay for Marigold Seeds and Walt delivered the packets of seeds to every home in Mantorville. The rest is history.

The event has become a major festival covered with music, drama, quilt and flower shows, antiques, crafts and flea markets. At 7 p.m. tomorrow will be the Field of Flags Presentation at the corner of Fifth and Clay streets. The Mantorville Theatre Co. presents "Meet me at the Rendezvous" Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Mantorville Opera House.

Take your bouquets Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and register them for the Saturday and Sunday flower shows at the Greek Revival House. Senior citizens will enjoy an ice cream and pie social both Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Senior Citizens Center. There will be a worship service Sunday at 10 a.m. at the First Congregational Church on the music stage. I'll feature this church in this Saturday's Post-Bulletin in my column "As the Spirit Moves Me."

At 3:30 p.m. Saturday is the Big Iron Classic Truck Parade on Highway 57. A King and Queen will be named Saturday at 7 p.m., and fireworks from Goat Island will follow at dark. There will be live music all day Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. with "Hitfaced." The Marigold Days Grand Parade starts Sunday at 1:30 p.m. with likely more than 100 units. Following the parade, is the Firefighters Water Fight on Fifth street. Don't miss the car show Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration for the show starts at 9:30 a.m. on Fifth Street West.

As often happens in most small town festivals, the events become reunions for people. I wonder what Walt Bruzek would say if he came back today. He'd stand there with a chuckle shaking hands with old and new friends.

Next week:The History of Rochester Exchange Club's Travelogue series. And Pickwick Mill Day Sept. 13th.

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