Westfield’s 350th birthday celebration plans beginning to take shape

WESTFIELD—The city’s 350th birthday celebration is continuing to form, with additional information on the yearlong event slowly coming to fruition.

The plans are being made by Friends of the Westfield 350, Inc., a nonprofit organization with director Harry Rock at the helm. So far, Rock said that two events are set to happen in relation to the birthday celebration, which are a First Night and a theatrical production outlining several important parts within Westfield’s history. However, many other plans are in their nascent stages and funding is still being determined for the birthday.

“We are in the building phase of the organization,” Rock said about the current state of plans and the nonprofit. “Not only are we sailing the ship but we’re building it, too.”

The Westfield 350 logo was designed by Allison Terkelsen, a student at Westfield State University.

Rock said that, thus far, nonprofit status has been garnered for the Friends of the Westfield 350 on a state level but they are still seeking the ability to accept donations on the state level through what Rock called “solicitation approval.” Once this is obtained, Rock said, then donations can be sought and received.

In addition, Rock said that they are still seeking 501(c)3 status from the IRS. If this is obtained, then Rock said that deductions can be taken on donations to the Friends of the Westfield 350.

“We’re waiting on the authorization to go forward to ask money, that’s from the state, and authorization from the IRS to take a deduction when they give the money,” he said.

In addition, Rock said that the organization, which is made up of five committees and 60 to 70 volunteers within the community, is expecting to hold a second meeting with all of the committees in November to look at what plans are feasible and can be supported.

“Come November, we should have a good idea of what we can do,” he said.

However, Rock said that two plans are definitely going to occur but the level at which they are done is to be determined.

The first will be to have a celebration on December 31, 2018, to help usher in the new year.

“There will definitely be a First Night, we are committed to that,” he said.

The events that Rock has specified for this event to this point include a march along Broad Street—which he said Westfield Police have agreed to shut down the roadway for—and a bonfire and festivities at the end of the march. In addition, if funding is adequate, fireworks will also occur.

The second definitive plan will be for what Rock called “Birthday Weekend” from May 17 to May 19, 2019.

According to Rock, the Friends of the Westfield 350 have invited several local and state-level elected officials to come to the festivities. In addition, the plan right now is to have a giant birthday cake and ice cream.

Rock also hopes to involve the youth within the city.

“We are looking at ways to highlight the Westfield schools and their children,” he said.

However, according to Rock, he wants to get everyone in the city involved.

“I want people to feel like it’s their celebration, I want people involved,” he said.

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