The city of Solon will kick off its bicentennial celebration this weekend with a winter extravaganza that will transform the Solon Community Center.

Manager Rich Parker said the first event of the 2020 celebration is sure to be fun for all and is themed around the winter season. Winterfest, a Time to Gather, will take place from 5-8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11 at the Solon Community Center on Portz Parkway.

The evening will feature ice carvers, aerial performers, food, fun and more for people of all ages.

Winterfest is the first of four new events marking the bicentennial. A budget of $217,000 was approved for these events as well as two initiatives and the incorporation of the bicentennial in annual events like Fall Fest and Home Days.

The four events, which will be spread throughout the year, include the Winterfest, a time capsule opening June 14, a bicentennial ball Sept. 26 and a video and book release Dec. 15.

Two collaborative campaigns will also take place this year, including a launch in March of “Passport to Solon,” which will highlight all local businesses and attractions in the city and encourage people to use their “passport” when visiting those businesses. This campaign will include the Solon Chamber of Commerce’s input, Mr. Parker said.

The second campaign in April, “A Time to Service,” will feature 200 projects for 200 years and include residents taking part in service projects with the engagement of the Solon Rotary Club and the Solon Senior Center.

At Winterfest, all of the information on the upcoming events will be presented, Mr. Parker said.

Attendees will also see a “transformed” Community Center.

“We wanted to do this kickoff with a bang,” he said of this family event.

The first floor of the center will include a variety of decorations and theme lighting. It will be closed early that day for the event.

About 85 percent of Winterfest will be indoors, Mr. Parker continued. Food vendors will be on hand in the gymnasium with some of the food free and some available for purchase. Outside will be the ice carvers and ice skating rink.

“It will be a lot of fun stuff,” Mr. Parker said of the free event. Attendees will also be able to tour Solon through a virtual reality headset. There will be face painting and carnival games as well.

“We really want to make these four events special.”

The time capsule opening in June will feature a family picnic presented around the Solon Historical Society and City Hall campuses on Bainbridge Road, Mr. Parker explained. There will be “touch-a-truck” activities, music, food and a grand unveiling of the time capsule, as well as the burying of a new one for the next 200 year reveal.

The bicentennial ball will be presented tentatively at Signature of Solon and feature guests in cocktail attire and some VIPs who were instrumental in building the city. There will be a sit-down meal as part of this event, Mr. Parker said.

The final event, the video and book release, will be held at the Solon Center for the Arts, and will include city officials, “key city stakeholders” and the media, Mr. Parker said.

“We will celebrate all the activities we have done,” Mr. Parker said, and unveil the video which will document the celebrations throughout the year, both new and existing. There will also be a bicentennial book release.

For the last decade, Sue Reid has covered the government, business climate and residents of Solon. A Times reporter for 22 years, Ms. Reid has earned commendations from the Ohio Newspaper Association and Cleveland Press Association.

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