Around Town

Westfield’s 350th celebration plans gathering steam

WESTFIELD—The city’s 350th birthday plans are “charging” along, according to Friends of the Westfield 350 President Harry Rock.

The Friends of the Westfield 350, who are planning the city’s yearlong celebration, have solidified several plans and their nonprofit status ahead of the 2019 celebration. Among the plans being discussed are two signature events next year, said Rock.

“We’re charging along here, made a lot of progress,” Rock said. “We’ve come a long way.”

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

First, on the fundraising side, Rock said that the Friends of the 350 have established themselves as a nonprofit organization with the state, as well as from the federal government.

“We are now fully ready to start fundraising,” Rock said.

Specifically, on the state side, Rock said that the state recognized them as a nonprofit organization, as well as gotten the OK to fundraise.

Then, on the federal side, Rock said that the group has established itself as a 501(c)(3) organization, and have also set up an Employee Identification Number (EIN), which allowed them to have a bank account.

Among other things, this means that those who donate can now choose to itemize the donation on their taxes.

Rock said that this also means that soon, there will be an effort put forth to start the fundraising efforts more actively.

“We have great plans, but with great plans comes great expense,” he said.

“We will be going out, talking with businesses and individuals—healthy fundraising over the next six months,” Rock said.

Regarding events for the celebration next year, the Friends of the Westfield 350 have two signature events that are getting locked in—a First Night celebration and a Birthday Weekend.

During the First Night celebration, Rock said it will not be like Northampton’s annual welcoming of the New Year.

Instead, the group is focusing on a more family-friendly affair, which will tentatively include a gathering on the Green at Park Square in the early evening, followed by a march down Broad Street, heading to the Boys and Girls Club of Westfield and Amelia Park area.

The agencies in that area, Rock said, will tentatively be open until 10 p.m., and will have activities for children and families alike, such as ice skating, a movie and perhaps a bonfire. Also, a ball-lighting ceremony and fireworks are expected.

“It will be a fun evening for kids to be able to experience their own midnight,” Rock said.

Then, later in the year, a Birthday Weekend is planned, starting Friday, May 17, 2019, and going until the city’s birthday on Sunday, May 19, 2019.

“We decided to put a whole weekend of activities together,” Rock said.

On Friday, May 17, it is expected that there will be proclamations read from the state senator and representative, as well as the mayor and other dignitaries. Also, a play is expected at the Westfield Women’s Club from local playwright Kathy Palmer.

Then, on Saturday, Rock said that a pancake breakfast will be held by two Westfield Boy Scout Troops near the First Congregational Church, which will then lead into a Bike Rodeo at the Columbia Greenway.

“It’s a phenomenal resource we have,” Rock said of the bike trail.

Then, that afternoon, the Run Westfield 5K is expected to go at 1 p.m., followed by its annual block party. Following that, Rock said that everyone will be invited back to the Boys and Girls Club where several different activities are expected, including live music.

Finally, on the city’s birthday Sunday, May 19, 2019, a “huge community parade” is being planned, which will begin at Stanley Park. The parade will have many different participants expected, including politicians, farm tractors, floats and more.

“We’re looking to make that parade as big and as long as we’ve ever seen,” Rock said.

Rock said that there are also efforts to put together a 350-piece marching band, made up of alumni from Westfield High School. Rock said that if you would like to be a part, to contact Patrick Kennedy at Westfield High School for that.

Then, the parade will finish with a giant cake, which people can enjoy at the Green.

Rock said that as these plans and more come to fruition, volunteers will be needed to make everything happen. However, right now volunteers are not needed. For more information though, including updates, you can follow the group on Facebook or by finding them by searching for “Westfield 350.”

Also, to donate, you can send a check to the Friends of the Westfield 350, PO Box 1715, Westfield, Massachusetts.

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