By Mark A. Diaz
The Arroyo Grande Valley Harvest Festival celebrates the AG community and its rich agricultural history and has been doing so since 1937. In honor of her decades of community service, Pearl Cole was selected to represent the spirit of the festival as Grand Marshal.
Originally from Aberdeen, South Dakota, Cole moved to California in 1941 and came to Arroyo Grande in 1955. She has lived in the Village ever since. Cole says that only a few months after her move to the area she found herself working as the secretary of the festival.
“I would record all the awards that were given, dash home, type them up,” said Cole, “and take them to the Herald Recorder so that they could get them into the newspaper and it would be out in the newspaper the next day.”
This year’s theme for the festival is “Harvesting Happiness,” something Cole says she is accomplishing by devoted her time to helping others. Now, 95-years-old, Cole continues to dedicate her time volunteering and giving back to the community. The nonagenarian said that enlisting time to help others is “food for the soul” and it gives her a wonderful feeling. Last year alone, Cole recorded more than 300 hours of service with Senior Volunteer Services, a local non-profit, and was recognized by the South County Historical Society for years of service to the community.
Currently, Cole spends three days a week at the Central Coast Senior Center (CCSC) an organization she has been involved with since its inception in 1990.
“There’s always some place that you can find to try to make the community in which you live a better place,” said Cole. “I’ve always believed that you need to give back some of what you get. So being at the Senior Center and doing what I’ve done over there has been a very rewarding way of saying thank you for this wonderful community that I have lived in.”
Located at 1580 Railroad St., Oceano, the CCSC serves seniors 50 and over in the 5 Cities area and provides seniors with a place to socialize and stay active. Cole served as president of the center and continues to work on the board of supervisors.
“I’ve been involved with the Senior Center a long time and then eventually, I took over the leadership,” said Cole. “I was president for the Senior Center for a couple of years which was a wonderful experience, I learned a lot, so I’m still active in that.”
Cole will officially be recognized at the beginning of the festival on Sept. 28, and she will ride in the parade the following day. The procession begins at 10 a.m. The parade starts at the intersection of Traffic Way at Branch Street and will move East on Branch St. through the Village of Arroyo Grande to Mason St. turns right and continues to Poole St. and then disburse. There will be plenty of viewing areas on both sides of the street on Mason Street all the way to Poole and on Branch Street.