STRONGSVILLE – There are a number of months before 2016 arrives.
However, the city of Strongsville is not lacking for ideas to celebrate the community’s 200th anniversary next year.
A public meeting was held April 15 at the Ehrnfelt Event Center where approximately 50 people came together to elicit ideas on ways the city might use to celebrate two centuries since the first settlers put down roots Feb. 25, 1816.
“As we move along in our discussions and try to tie all of our ideas, please wrap them around family-oriented issues,” Strongsville Mayor Thomas Perciak said in addressing attendees. “I would prefer that everything we do, in some way, is all inclusive … We want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to celebrate.”
There are numerous annual events in the city presented by organizations such as Arts in Strongsville, City Club, Chamber of Commerce and Historical Society. These include the Art Chalk Walk (May), Rib Burnoff (June) Homecoming (July), Breakfast on the Covered Bridge (September), Day at the Chalet (September), Harvest Festival (October) and Lighting on the Commons (November).
Perciak stated that bicentennial celebrations could be tied into the established aforementioned events, but do so without detracting.
“We want to do something in addition to the Homecoming that would make that year’s Homecoming the most spectacular we’ve had in 75 years,” the mayor said. “The same thing goes with the City Club and the Rib Burnoff. We want to do something that will augment what they do, not take away from it.”
It will take money and lots of it in order to plan and execute the 200th anniversary celebration. Perciak made it clear that funds will not come from the city’s coffers.
“This will not be paid for by the city of Strongsville. We are not permitted nor is the council in a position to authorize payment. We cannot use taxpayer dollars,” he said. “We are going to have to do some type of fundraising or ask for outright donations.”
Ideas, thoughts, suggestions
One resident mentioned the possibility of commissioning silver commemorative coins and selling them to raise funds. The city of Strongsville did just that for its 175th year celebration.
Another resident had a lengthy list of thoughts that included a special concert by the Strongsville Community Band, restoration of the old mill at Bonnie Park, an agricultural fair and bring back the Victorian feast from years ago.
Every event held in the city during 2016 should have some component of the bicentennial celebration. Each committee involved with the celebration should coordinate with each organization in the city, according to another resident.
“The choice would be whether we do something separate. Do we do a party, do we do a picnic or do we do something at the soccer fields? That could be a special event,” she said. “I would also like to see a monument or some sort of sculpture that sits somewhere. That would be a long lasting symbol of the 200 years past in Strongsville.”
Assistant Schools Superintendent Cameron Ryba, who will take over as superintendent July 1, stated the schools will do whatever they can do to help out.
“We want to support some of the events, take the initiative and build that connection,” he said. “We have various essay and literary contests throughout the year. That would be something we would be more than willing to initiate throughout the district. There are a lot of ideas we can definitely support and take the lead.”
Susan Miller, service unit director for Girl Scouts in Strongsville, stated the more than 700 Scouts are willing to help any committee in any way.
Many of the fourth through 12th-grade Girl Scouts came up with a number of ideas including scavenger hunts, historical cemetery tours, cake baking contests, cookie decorating, geocaching, school supply collection, car show, horse and buggy rides and Civil War re-enactments.
City Council President Michael Daymut stated development of a theme and logo for the celebration is important. Residents also need to share their stories.
“If we could set up a website for residents to tell about when they grew up here to get a chronicle of not only what happened 200 years ago, but the more recent history,” he said.
John Bedford, director of communications and technology with the city, brought forth the possibility of a commemorative book, plate or print.
Perciak took Bedford’s suggestion a step farther when he said, “We have to do something to identify as to who we are today, the Strongsville of 2016. We can’t forget that. We acknowledge the Strongsville of yesterday, but we’re the ones living and breathing and making Strongsville what it is today. We have to figure out a way, whether it be a commemorative plate, that this is what’s happening in 2016.”
Long-time resident Carole Maatz worked on the committee during the city’s 150th anniversary celebration in 1966.
“It makes me feel so good that my hometown is 200 years old,” she said. “What I’d like to emphasize is that we should show our history. We had a play that showed the history of Strongsville done by the students.”
Ruth Brickley, president of the Strongsville Historical Society, stated that the organization is willing to share any information they have with committees for the bicentennial celebration.
“Be sure to call us as you’re setting up your programs or displays,” she said. “We look forward to stretching out what we already do.”
Whether the celebration will be summer focused or a year-round celebration is up for discussion.
“We have the facilities to do a lot of things,” Perciak said.
Anyone who has an idea or suggestion for the 2016 celebration should call the mayor’s office at 440-580-3150.