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Couple of 59 Years To Lead National Cherry Festival Heritage Parade As Grand Marshals

The couple that’s been putting on a carnival for decades is got a special honor on Tuesday.

That’s what Ivan and Agnes Arnold do every year at the National Cherry Festival—help entertain the masses. Ivan’s been working the festival since 1956, and they’ve brought the carnival with them since 1980. 

”It just seems nice to come back home,” Agnes says.

That’s what they do every year. Come home. After so many years, the NCF has become a place of deep familiarity.

“The Cherry Festival is our idol, there’s just something about it,” Ivan says. “The way done, and they do things right.”

This year the honor of a lifetime for this couple of 59 years is leading the Heritage Parade.

“I was really shocked when they called and wanted to know if we wanted to do it, and I said yeah I’d be glad to do it,” Ivan says. “It’s quite an honor after all these years.”

Leading the Heritage Parade is a fitting tribute for all this couple has done, including opening the rides to children with disabilities for a day during the NCF.

“We have a handicap child in our family, and so it puts a little bit in the heart here, we’re so tickled,” Ivan says.

Agnes says the hard work is worth it if it brings smiles.

“And if you see the smile on their faces and you know it’s all worth it,” she says. “We look forward to it every year.”

This three-generation family operation shows no signs of slowing down.

“A lot of my friends live here, and I’ve seen them over the years (as) the city officials and parking officials, and a lot of people in the restaurants and the farmers out here,” Ivan says.

You can catch Ivan and Agnes leading the Heritage Parade through downtown Traverse City starting Tuesday night at 7.