Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Organizer eyes dates for 150th birthday celebration

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 3/3/2014

A community picnic and a permanent work of art commemorating Ottawa’s 150th birthday are a couple of highlights organizers have in store for the city’s sesquicentennial celebration this fall, Jeanny Sharp said.

Sharp, editor and publisher of The Ottawa Herald and head of a steering committee organizing the community celebration, provided Ottawa city commissioners with a sesquicentennial update Monday afternoon during the commission’s study session at City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St. The Herald is spearheading the 150th birthday party celebration.

A community picnic and a permanent work of art commemorating Ottawa’s 150th birthday are a couple of highlights organizers have in store for the city’s sesquicentennial celebration this fall, Jeanny Sharp said.

Sharp, editor and publisher of The Ottawa Herald and head of a steering committee organizing the community celebration, provided Ottawa city commissioners with a sesquicentennial update Monday afternoon during the commission’s study session at City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St. The Herald is spearheading the 150th birthday party celebration.

The steering committee of community leaders — including Shawn Dickinson, city commissioner, and Scott Bird, the city’s finance director — would like to schedule a community picnic Sept. 6 at Forest Park, 320 N. Locust St., to celebrate Ottawa’s 150th birthday, Sharp said.

“We want the centerpiece of the celebration to be a community picnic and birthday party on the Ottawa Town Company’s charter day Saturday, Sept. 6,” Sharp said Monday. “This is the same day that was recognized for previous centennial and other city birthday celebrations. It also is the Saturday following Labor Day and the one preceding Power of the Past and Ol’ Marais River Run.”

The celebration would be bookended by the new Swan Arts Festival in June and Ottawa University’s own sesquicentennial celebration in April 2015, she said.

“We believe the city also could use the community picnic as an opportune time to plant 15 trees, which generally already occurs around this same time, to commemorate the sesquicentennial, as well as formally dedicating the new Bark Park and playground [both in Forest Park] at the same time.”

Organizers are hopeful the Ottawa City Band and other local musicians will perform at the picnic, she said.

Other ideas that emerged from a recent brainstorming meeting included having skydivers land at the park during the celebration, as well as having ACT Ottawa performers dressed in period costumes at each of the historical kiosks downtown for a walking tour, Sharp said. Organizers also talked about asking the Ottawa Community Arts Council to create a coloring book featuring local historical landmarks, she said.

The steering committee also would like the city commission to issue a proclamation recognizing the milestone, Sharp added.

“We have requested participants reframe specific events throughout the year to include something unique to the sesquicentennial, so that this year’s [River Run] car show include an additional award of the Mayor’s Sesquicentennial Favorite vehicle [for example],” Sharp said. “Similarly, Rex Carswell has agreed to create a special frame spelling out the words ‘Happy 150th birthday Ottawa’ to serve as the final fireworks display during the Independence Day celebration.”

 Creating a lasting piece of public art, such as what was done 25 years ago with the creation and installation of the Buffalo Woman statue that sits in front of the Franklin County Courthouse, 301 S. Main St., is another of the steering committee’s goals, Sharp said.

“We would like to leave a lasting piece of public art to commemorate this occasion and would like to enhance the statue with the addition of the Ottawa tribe’s beadwork around the base of the Buffalo Woman statue,” Sharp said.

Hasty Awards, 1015 Enterprise St., Ottawa, has agreed to create the original town company’s seal medallion, to be melded with the beadwork art, she said. Organizers are hopeful the city will agree to pay a portion of the cost to add the art to the statue or some other public art that city leaders might prefer, Sharp said.

Thirty-five businesses and organizations have been asked to help with the event thus far, Sharp said.

“We are attempting to make this a revenue-neutral celebration by asking each participating business and organization to invest $150 in the joint promotional efforts, which includes a new logo, website, social media, posters, static cling logos and more,” she said.

Organizers are asking the City of Ottawa to submit its ideas this month for the sesquicentennial celebration.

Sharp met with the city commission for about 35 minutes during Monday’s study session. Commissioners seemed agreeable to the steering committee’s proposals but made no funding commitments for the project.

The steering committee intends to roll out its final plans for the celebration April 10 — 150 days before the community birthday party, Sharp said.

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