Four signature events marking Solon’s 2020 bicentennial were presented to the City Council Finance Committee Monday with an estimated cost of $216,000.
All of these events are contingent on budget approval. The cost would be presented as part of budget hearings for 2020 slated for November.
“We really want to put on a strong event,” Community Center Manager Rich Parker said of the cost estimate for the celebration. “This is not popcorn being handed out. We really want to make these four events special,” he said of the celebration to commemorate Solon’s settlement in 1820.
They would include a Winterfest in January, a time capsule opening in June, a bicentennial ball in September and a video and book release in December.
Mr. Parker explained that the events would be a part of existing events throughout the year such as Home Days and Fall Fest, for example, which would tie into the bicentennial theme and celebration.
“To put on these events will require money we have not asked for in the past,” Mr. Parker said. “We are trying to be efficient, but this is a one-time request which will be part of the 2020 proposed budget request and subject to council approval.
“It’s a big milestone to reach 200 years,” Mr. Parker noted. “We’ve really prepared a nice years’ worth of events, utilizing both new activities and connecting current events we have.”
The Winterfest, which would kickoff the year-long celebration, would be held at the Solon Community Center. The aim of this event is to draw as many people as possible, Mr. Parker said, to be able to unveil the plans for the year.
It will be a family gathering, Mr. Parker continued, and include entertainment, food and music, as well as outdoor winter activities.
The time capsule opening in June would 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.
Two collaborative campaigns would also take place next year, including a launch in March of “Passport to Solon,” highlighting local businesses and attractions in the city and encouraging residents to use their “passport” when visiting those businesses. The Solon Chamber of Commerce would have input in this campaign, Mr. Parker said.
The second campaign in April, “A Time to Service,” would 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.
Mr. Parker described a “Bicentennial Planning Committee” that includes the mayor, members of his administration, representatives from the Solon Historical Society, the Impact Group and Palmer Event Solutions, an outside firm hired to help with the celebration at a cost of $27,000. The firm will help plan the event as part of an 18-month contract.
Mr. Parker said the hope is to “maximize sponsorship dollars as soon as possible” and engage the community.
“We really want to make up as much as we can through sponsorships,” Mr. Parker said.
Councilwoman Nancy E. Meany asked Mr. Parker if he has reached out to the Rotary yet and, if so, the reaction of members. He said Palmer Events has done that, but has not reported back on the Rotary’s response. “We will take their feedback and switch gears as necessary,” Mr. Parker said.
Mrs. Meany also asked if they have reached out to residents for their feedback. Mr. Parker said no, but that residents are encouraged to visit the city’s Facebook page for the bicentennial.
“You have some great events planned,” Mrs. Meany said, expressing uncertainty about a ball.
Finance Director Matthew Rubino said the “one-time expenditure” is not a large amount of the overall budget considering this type of event happens only every 100 years.
“I’m excited for the time capsule,” Mrs. Meany said.