Planning a 350th birthday can never start too soon

WESTFIELD—Although it is still nearly two years away, the planning for the 350th anniversary of the city’s founding is officially underway following the Westfield 350 board’s first public meeting yesterday.

The board, which held the event at the First Congregational Church on Broad Street, hosted about 50 residents during the meeting. They fielded ideas for a variety of facets regarding the celebration, from fundraising to events, in anticipation of the city’s official 350th birthday on May 19, 2019. In addition, they asked for help from residents to try and plan and make the celebration a success.

“The reason why we’re sitting here in 2017 is because it’s going to take that long to get the party together we want to have,” Mayor Brian Sullivan said during the meeting yesterday.

Mayor Brian Sullivan addresses the crowd at the Westfield 350 meeting yesterday. The meeting was the group’s first public meeting

Many elected officials were on hand for the meeting, as well as some city employees like community outreach coordinator Amber Danahey and community development director Peter Miller, who are in charge of the planning from the city side.

However, according to those organizing and planning, the residents were the ones that were in charge and who are needed to make the event happen.

“We can’t expect the city to take on this task, it’s important for the residents of the city to work hand-in-hand with the city,” Harry Rock, president of Westfield 350, said.

Westfield 350 is a group of volunteers chosen to help lead the organization for the year-long event.

“We need volunteers, we need ideas,” Rock added. “Most importantly, we need you to make this event fun, make this event educational and make this event memorable.”

According to Danahey, the city currently has no budgeted funding for the celebration but there were attempts on the state-level earlier this year to try and get money for the event. The request was eliminated during early budget cuts in January.

Rock said that funding will likely be coming from fundraising efforts, and that this brainstorming event was also being used as a way to gauge the amount of funding that may be needed.

“Based on what we get here we can fabricate costs and expenses,” he said yesterday. “Figure out how small or big this will be.”

Westfield resident Anne Woodson puts a suggestion onto one of the idea boards at the Westfield 350 meeting yesterday

The brainstorm created several ideas that were solicited from the residents on-hand, and additional ideas were previously submitted and created through initial stages of planning. Among the ideas were to have a block party, community picnic, historical reenactments, fireworks, rubber duck and bicycle races, city-centric trading and playing cards, walking tours and a variety of social media and smart phone-related events.

Rock said if you would like to find out more about the planning or to contribute ideas, you can follow the group on Facebook, or contact Danahey at (413)572-6244, or Miller at (413)572-6246. Also, if you would like to contribute money to the event, Rock asked that interested parties reach him through the aforementioned Facebook page.

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