Donald (Butch) Helgeson stands in his home in Canton. ELIZABETH ABRAHAMSON/NEWS-RECORD
Donald (Butch) Helgeson stands in his home in Canton. ELIZABETH ABRAHAMSON/NEWS-RECORD

As a 41-year Canton resident and a Canton High School graduate, Donald (Butch) Helgeson is quite familiar with the events of Canton Day Off. Butch remembers many years of this town holiday, specifically recalling the thousands of people who used to ride the train to Canton to attend.

“Everyone wanted to be here for Canton Day Off. You can’t imagine how jam-packed this town was after the many visitors arrived by train,” recalled Butch.

Butch and his wife, Debbie, have been married for 11 years and reside in Canton with their three cats. Before the cats became the sole recipients of Butch and Debbie’s parental care at home, Butch raised two daughters and Debbie raised two sons. The pair also has seven grandchildren together.

Butch describes being chosen to be a grand marshal as a true honor.

“When I got the call, I was surprised, but it did feel rewarding to be recognized by a town I have long been a part of,” Butch said.

Butch has done more as a Canton resident than many may realize. The numerous titles he has held prove Butch’s devotion to the town. For 34 years Butch was part of the Canton Fire Department and served as chief for 25 of those years. Butch also takes pride in the 16 years he was voted in as mayor by his Canton community. To name only one of the notable accomplishments he oversaw as mayor, Butch recalled being a part of the team that assisted in redoing Highway 52 in Canton.

As for Butch’s current activities, he stays busy as president of Henrytown Lutheran Church and in his job as a mailman, which he has held for 41 years.

Though it seems Butch would not have time to fit much else into his schedule, he also likes to take his motorcycle out for riding, have occasional golfing days and work in his yard with Debbie.

Butch and Debbie have several events in store for their weekend during Canton Day Off. Butch will not only start the parade off by riding in the grand marshal float, but will also hurry back to ride in his graduating class’s float. His class is celebrating their class reunion this weekend. The Helgesons will also stay busy working the admissions booth at both the teen dance and the beer garden.

As a Canton native, Butch has accumulated many stories about the town that he loves to share. He remembers a time when Canton thrived, recalling when, at age 7, he’d see bands playing in the town gazebo. He also remembers when Canton held not just one, but five gas stations, and, at one point, issued 27 liquor licenses.

These are just some of the fascinating stories Butch takes pleasure in telling and retelling. He looks forward to catching up with classmates and spending time with friends and family during the Canton Day Off celebration this weekend.