IN A FEW HOURS, President Barack Obama arrives in small-town Minnesota for the first stop on a Midwest bus tour that will also take him into rural parts of Iowa and Illinois.
The folks in Cannon Falls, a town of some 3,795 in southeastern Minnesota, have rolled out the flags in a patriotic welcome to our nation’s leader.
Throughout the downtown Sunday afternoon, most businesses were displaying American flags in storefront windows. Flags were also posted along the downtown streets. Some homeowners displayed flags in their yards and mini-flags lined at least a block of the roadway leading to Hannah’s Bend Park, site of the President’s visit.
Whether Obama will ever see the many flags in the downtown remains unknown as his route into and out of Cannon Falls remained unofficially unknown to the locals I visited with on Sunday. At least one business owner speculated he would travel U.S. Highway 52 into town, which seems the most likely route.
Warren Schaffer of Schaffer’s Antiques recalled a shutdown along that highway when President Ronald Reagan passed by Cannon Falls.
The last visit by a U.S. President to this Goodhue County town occurred in 1928, when Calvin Coolidge attended the dedication of a statue honoring Col. William Colvill, a Civil War veteran who led the First Minnesota Volunteer Regiment during the battle at Gettysburg.
Most Cannon Falls residents likely feel as antique shop owner Schaffer does about Obama’s visit. “He’s the President. This is a little town. This is a big deal.”
© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling