Any group or business interested in working with the City of Marion, its residents, and other units of government, will find that they could not be approaching the community at a better time in terms of local cooperation and interaction. A spirit of cooperation has existed for many years. The annual Old Settlers Day celebration, sponsored by the local Kiwanis Club, includes activities both on city streets and in Central Park. The City works with the Kiwanis members to spruce up the community before and after the celebration.
Our Chingawassa Days Festival was started in 1997 as a separate committee from the Chamber of Commerce. This festival encompasses the entire community for a full weekend, and has always received outstanding cooperation from the City, to the extent that they are now considered to be a city committee receiving insurance coverage and ongoing assistance from city staff.
The spirit of cooperation has always been prevalent in Marion. The residents are becoming even more interested in improving the community for everyone who lives here. The Chingawassa Days committee has, for many years, had a rhinoceros as it's mascot. When the committee decided to try and convince local merchants to buy, decorate and display a 250 pound concrete rhino statue to promote Chingawassa Days, the goal was to get 5-10 on Main Street. At $100 each, the committee was amazed that their goal of 10 was surpassed by 50 more.
If you've observed Chingawassa Days since the event was born in 1997, you may have noticed that the event's logo, along with ads and posters promoting the weekend, often include a rhinoceros. Early versions showed the silhouette of a classic rhino. As time has passed, the rhino has been transformed into a more cartoon like figure, usually standing on two legs. He also gained a name. "Pete the Rhino" has been seen: boarding a rail car; standing with outstretched in a disco pose with one upraised arm; in a rock-n-roll pose with his guitar; and in full gallop promoting the rhino run. So why a rhino named Pete?
One of the members of the original Chingawassa Days committee was Pete Peterson. He was on enthusiastic member of the group who was well liked by everyone. Unfortunately, Pete had a serious illness, and although he was able to participate in the planning of the first celebration, he was severely limited in his ability to participate when the events actually took place. Nevertheless, his dedication was an inspiration to the rest of the committee. Pete had an interest in rhinos. He had a number of statues, figurines, and pictures of the them. When Pete passed way, the Chingawassa Days steering committee informally adopted the rhino as a logo in his memory. The committee commissioned a chainsaw artist to carve a rhino statue which is kept in the Marion chamber of commerce office most of the year, but is brought out the weekend of Chingawassa and displayed in the park. The silhouette of a rhinoceros was used on certificates of appreciation and thank you cards By 2000, the rhino, which had by then come to be known as "Pete", was incorporated into the actual Chingawassa Days logo for that year. Prior to that time, the logo had always featured a rail car because of the old railroad connecting Marion to Chingawassa Springs. In 2000, Pete the Rhino, was seen boarding a Chingawassa Springs railcar. Pete has continued to be a part of the logo ever since. In recent years, "Pete the Chingawassa Rhino" has become the centerpiece of the logo.
While the original intention of using the rhino as a symbol of the Chingawassa Days event was intended to honor Peter Peterson, the committee has now come to realize that it is also a very recognizable and unique symbol with which to promote Marion's premiere entertainment event. What other community in Kansas has a rhino for it's mascot? So look for Peter the Rhino to continue to grow in popularity and to spring up on clothing, signs, publications and anywhere Chingawassa Days is being promoted.
The community showed its imagination and sense of humor in coming together to back this promotion that now allows Marion to proudly claim to be the “Rhino Capital of Kansas".
We now offer an official Rhino Tour map to guide visitors to view the nearly 100 rhinos decorated throughout our town.
Perhaps the best example of the ongoing positive attitude and spirit of cooperation is the joint project currently being undertaken by the City of Marion and USD 408. They have joined forces and entered into an interlocal agreement to complete the new gymnasium, auditorium and indoor swimming pool. The pool will be shared jointly between the City and USD 408 with all costs associated with its operation split 50/50. This example of interlocal cooperation will benefit residents of the entire school dDistrict, and is only possible because local leaders are thinking and working hard at finding ways to work together for the benefit of those they serve.
The Marion Advancement Campaign is a community group which has formed a non-profit corporation/foundation dedicated to investing in the future of Marion. The campaign has taken on the task of funding a local community center. In a short period of time, they have raised over $50,000 towards the project. The community is actively working together to reach their common goal. The campaign has also been able to offer two $250 scholarships to graduating seniors each year.