Birthday parties are fun, especially when they last all year. And Westfield’s 350th was the party to end all parties.
Sadly though, all good things must come to an end and the dismantling of the iconic birthday cake this week marks the end of the celebration.
The cake will go on to help Hatfield celebrate its 350th and spark feelings of pride in another community. But when the candles are blown out in Westfield, it doesn’t mean the spirit of the party has to end, it’s just time to make a wish.
So many people returned to their hometown this past year to commemorate the historic anniversary. So many people reconnected after decades of being away. Friendships were rekindled and new ones formed.
Residents learned more about Westfield than they expected, especially young people. Everyone will take away their own special memories, but for most people, a birthday is all about the cake.
I remember my third birthday cake. It was Cookie Monster. I loved Sesame Street and in addition to my cake, I wore a dress with an apron-style skirt that had Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Bert & Ernie and Oscar the Grouch. It had blue stripes. I will never forget that birthday.
For my 13th birthday I had an ice cream cake. It was black raspberry ice cream and was decorated with hot air balloons. I didn’t wear a matching outfit for that one, but I remember that cake well.
For many of my birthdays, my grandmother (nicknamed Moo), and then later my Aunt Lisa, would make me my favorite family-recipe cake: The 1-2-3-4 cake. It’s named for the number of cups of its main ingredients and it’s delicious. No frosting necessary, which says a LOT coming from me because I love frosting!
For my husband, a jell-o poke cake was always his favorite birthday sweet treat. His mother made them while he was growing up and our children and I have continued the tradition. His birthday is tomorrow, so guess what we’re doing tonight?
I’ve made themed birthday cakes for my own children. For our oldest, The Little Mermaid, horse cake and an Oscars cake (think red carpet and gold stars) were the highlights. My son’s cakes have included Elmo (thank you, Big Y), Star Wars, Angry Birds and Mario Brothers. The Mario cake was, in my book, a serious #momfail. It was three layers with buttercream in between and covered in fondant with polka dot mushrooms and piranha plants. The fondant cracked and it was lopsided, but my son saw his 7-year-old vision come to fruition and for that I am grateful.
My daughter has had Minnie Mouse, a giant cupcake, an owl, a princess cake (I took the easy way out on this one – a sheet cake with pink frosting and her Disney Princess Little People figurines on top) and this year’s cake was a bundt cake I decorated with pink frosting and sprinkles to resemble a donut.
For Westfield’s birthday, the giant wooden cake was just as important as an edible version. It was a symbol of what birthdays mean. For me, it means another year to reflect upon. Another year of growth. Another year of lessons. Another year of strength. And most of all, another year to make a wish that the next year will be even better and filled with possibilities.
Happy Birthday, Westfield.