WESTFIELD-With more than 50 volunteers sharing ideas and plans on Monday night at the Westfield Athenaeum for the city’s 350th birthday, it is clear it takes a village to take on a massive celebration.
Harry Rock, president of the Friends of the Westfield 350th, repeatedly thanked everyone – especially the partnership with the mayor’s office – during the course of the two-hour meeting for the enthusiasm and commitment shown on planning the 2019 celebration.
“This is the first time all of the committees have come together to report back and share what they have been working on,” said Rock, noting committees started meeting last fall. “As volunteers it shows you care about your city, our past, our future, and where we are today.”
Rock emphasized to committee members that each event being considered should be “fun,” “educational,” and “memorable.”
“There are so many attributes to this city and I’m excited about the events planned to showcase Westfield,” said Rock, adding the importance of reflecting on the city’s history. “We have a rich heritage and we want to share that with our children and our residents.”
While several “special projects” are still under wraps, committee members were also sharing a wide variety of projects, programs and fundraising events that soon will be shared with the public.
“Time is moving fast now,” said Rock, hinting that while some committee members might take a summer hiatus from their planning endeavors, by September it will be time to “start the buzz” and “start telling the city’s story.”
While sponsors are still being recruited as well as donors, fundraisers are underway that include T-shirts with the Westfield 350th celebration logo, and a special raffle for four box seat tickets at Fenway Park when the Red Sox host the Houston Astros on Sept. 9. Tickets are $10 each and only 100 tickets will be sold. Tickets are available at The Westfield News offices at 62 School St. T-shirts can be purchased at Rosewood Home & Gifts at 34 Elm St., Louis & Clark Country Gifts at 1029 North Road, Kelly’s Home & Garden, 81 Springfield Road or The Westfield News.,
Another fundraiser this summer is “Let’s Dine in White Tonight,” slated for Aug. 11 from 6 to 10 p.m. with the location still remaining a “secret.” Tickets are $25 per person and attendees will be asked to dress completely in white and bring all table linens and pack a picnic lunch or dinner, while the Bad News Jazz & Blues Orchestra performs. Tickets will be available soon at Thursday’s Farmers’ Market on the grounds of the Episcopal Church of the Atonement and the 4th of July city celebration.
In the fall, another fundraiser is planned called “Beards, Brews & Bands,” and is slated at the Sons of Erin on Sept. 29. Tickets will go on sale around July 1.
Committee members are also working behind the scenes on numerous projects ranging from a time capsule, mural project, tree planting program and treasure hunt to lectures on a variety of historical topics, a parade and a “race series.” As volunteers shared ideas Monday night – it was apparent that these ideas are only the tip of the iceberg.
“Our challenge is to have a solid plan,” said Rock, as he glanced around the room at posters for each month that needed to be filled in with happenings, beginning in December and culminating in May with the city’s official birthday. “We have some great ideas and when we start to create a buzz we will get people excited.”
Rock talked extensively about one of the “anchor events” of the celebration – First Night Dec. 31, 2018. The event begins with a gathering at 3:30 p.m. for persons who will be marching in the family parade set for 4 p.m. in front of the South Middle School. Parade participants will march around the Amelia Park complex and then end at the Amelia Park Garden which becomes a “transition point” for activities for all ages taking place at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield, the Amelia Park Arena and Garden, and the Amelia Park Children’s Museum.
Later that evening, at 7 p.m., a “Ball Drop” will happen as well as an “intense fireworks show.” Rock noted this is only a sampling of what visitors can expect on First Night.
As the meeting wound down, committee members were energized after listening to all of the volunteers share the ideas they have for generating excitement about the city’s birthday for residents of all ages.
Another anchor event will be the signature birthday weekend celebration – May 17-19, 2019 – since the city officially celebrates its birthday on May 19. While details are still in the planning stages, a family pancake breakfast is among the many highlights of the weekend.
For information on all Westfield 350th celebration announcements, as well as volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.westfield350.org. Ongoing Facebook posts are also available by “Liking” www.facebook.com/westfield350.
“When we wrap up this celebration a year from now, I hope that city residents – and especially our children – will feel a sense of civic pride about Westfield,” said Rock. “Together we will make this happen and make this city shine.”