Bexley Centennial Commission plans for summer celebrations

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The Bexley Centennial Commission will focus on promoting events between Memorial Day and Labor Day to commemorate the community’s 100th anniversary, with the Fourth of July festivities as the centerpiece of the celebration.

"I don’t think we need to create events. We have events out there waiting to happen," commented commission co-chairman Tom Hill at a Jan. 14 meeting at Jeffrey Mansion. "If we concentrate on the Fourth of July, we’ll be fine."

Activities that can recognize Bexley’s anniversary along with the Fourth of July include the Memorial Day weekend pool opening May 24, the Bexley Women’s Club’s Home and Garden Tour June 22, and the Labor Day Block Party Sept. 1.

That covers 101 days, similar to Grandview’s 100 Days of Celebration held a few years ago, City Councilman and commission member Matt Lampke said.

Bexley was incorporated as a village during the summer of 1908, as neighborhood associations representing residents to the north and the south came together at Jeffrey Mansion to establish one municipality.

The first Bexley village council met in August, 1908, representing about 1,000 citizens, according to "Bexley Images" by Edie Mae Herrel and Lavada Hogg.

Commission members agreed that they would like to see one other event held in August to round out the summer schedule.

Other organizations and institutions, including the Bexley schools, would be free to mount their own events throughout the year.

That could include having students plant 100 trees throughout the city, suggested school board and commission member Joan Fishel. The high school band and choral groups could also become involved.

The Bexley Historical Society is planning to have a display of photographs during the Fourth of July celebration at its home near the pool, and will publish a book of historical photos later in the year, Mark Epstein reported.

A "Building Doctor" presentation on restoring homes by the Ohio Historical Society’s preservation office is also scheduled, Epstein said.

Chamber of Commerce member Ed Nyhan unveiled a centennial logo, with a depiction of Jeffrey Mansion by local artist Scott Adams, that the commission will use on banners to generate interest and awareness of the centennial.

Nyhan estimated that it would cost about $2,500 to have banners printed that would be displayed along Main Street. He expected that the chamber would make a donation toward this cost.

Other commission members suggested that a mobile display using the logo be created that could be mounted at the library and other locations.

The logo could even be printed on t-shirts and other souvenir items as a fundraiser, commission member Sam Shamansky said. Businesses could be asked to provide a discount on purchases for customers wearing the shirts during the 100-day celebration period, he added.

Shamansky, a Bexley Library board member, said he has been talking to Director Robert Stafford about a centennial event that institution could mount.

Members were enthusiastic about kicking off Bexley’s 100 days with a pool opening that could include bands and a movie in the evening.

With the Fourth of July falling on Friday this year, the holiday provides a great opportunity for community get-togethers and reunions over the long weekend, Hill noted.

Commission members, representing other community organizations, discussed possible changes in events this year.

Barb Greiner, a Bexley recreation supervisor who volunteers with the Bexley Celebrations Association, said there has been discussion about shifting afternoon events on July 4 from Jeffrey Park to Main Street in a gathering similar to Summerfest.

That could include closing off part of the street. Mayor John Brennan expressed a preference for using Capital University’s Mound Street plaza for art displays and other attractions.

There is also interest in moving the fireworks display out of Wolfe Park, where it has been held for several years, and back to the Cassingham school grounds or the Capital soccer fields.

The fireworks were moved from the school grounds due to safety concerns and the potential for damage to the artificial athletic field surface.

Hill, a longtime volunteer for former Mayor David Madison’s cook-outs, and other commission members, want to scale back some of the food offerings at the Fourth of July and Labor Day events, allowing local vendors to sell their wares instead.

Brennan noted that the city has cut the budget this year for the Labor Day Block Party.

The next Bexley Centennial Commission meeting will be held Jan. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Jeffrey Mansion, 165 N. Parkview Ave.

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