Popcorn stand returns to corner of Willis Avenue, Railroad Street

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Bill and Rhonda Olson of Perry situate the old popcorn stand outside the Perry Public Library Sunday morning.

Celeste White Council of Perry ran the popcorn stand at Second and Willis from the 1920 to shortly before her death in 1969.

The Perry popcorn stand returned to its usual place Sunday morning at the intersection of Willis Avenue and Railroad Street after doing Independence Day duties in Pattee Park and then taking some time off.

“It’s been on vacation,” said Bill Olson of Perry as he and his wife, Rhonda Olson, maneuvered the mobile unit into place in the shade of the Perry Public Library’s trees.

Rhonda’s father, longtime Perry benefactor Wilford Roberts, constructed the reproduction popcorn stand for use in the first Perry Takes a Sentimental Journey event in August 2000.

Roberts’ popcorn stand is a slightly larger replica of the original stand owned and operated for 49 years in downtown Perry by Mrs. Celeste Council, popularly known for many years as Perry’s popcorn lady.

According to a Brenton Bank promotion that ran in the Perry Chief July 14, 2000, “If you recall downtown Saturday nights in Perry, a vivid recollection is sure to be that of Celeste Council, more affectionately known as ‘the popcorn lady.’ Many remember the fluffy white popcorn she sold at her little popcorn stand on the corner of Second and Willis, a Perry institution for nearly 50 years. It was a sad day in Perry when on April 23, 1969, the popcorn lady passed away at the age of 86. Look for a recreation of the popcorn stand in downtown Perry on August 12.”

Following the first Sentimental Journey, Roberts got into the habit of placing the popcorn stand at the corner of Willis Avenue and Second Street each spring and putting it up for the winter after the annual Perry Lighted Parade in November.

After the Hotel Pattee closed in December 2006, the Sentimental Journeys came to an end in August 2007, with Hometown Perry Iowa folding in December of that year and the Highland Elk leaping away to newer heights in April 2008.

Today the celestial popcorn stand remains to symbolize the past of Perry that is slowly slipping out of living memory, with eager young memories of Kwik Stars and Scooters avid for their turn in Perry history.

The Roberts family thanked the community for its donations after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

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