Column: Bexleys 100th birthday should be memorable

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You only turn 100 once. So you want to make the most of it.

That’s true for Bexley, which will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding this year.

A Bexley Centennial Commission, made up of representatives of numerous community organizations, has been meeting to plan for the best way to commemorate this milestone.

With only a vague mandate, no budget, and a short calendar, the commission is focusing on tailoring established events such as the Fourth of July festivities and the Labor Day block party to reflect the significance of this year.

Other organizations and institutions are planning for their own events, as well.

A centennial is something that people should be able to look back on for years to come (anyone remember Ohio’s bicentennial? Me, either).

With the understanding that time is short and money is shorter, I’d like to offer a few suggestions for making 2008 a landmark year for Bexley:

•Commission members have discussed children planting trees or burying a time capsule as souvenirs of the centennial. Commissioning a painting depicting the most significant people and events in the city’s history would be a visible, permanent record of the life of the community. There are a number of talented artists in and around Bexley, and perhaps one of them could be recruited to create such a portrait that could be displayed at City Hall or at the Bexley Historical Society headquarters.

•The Bexley Library is looking for a way to participate in the centennial celebration. One of the things that has always impressed me is the number of talented writers who have attended Bexley schools or call Bexley home. The list includes Bob Greene ( and his equally talented sister, D.G. Fulford, and mother, Phyllis Greene), R.L. Stine, Stephen Colbert Report writer Frank Lesser, poet Jennifer Bosveld, National Book Award winner Kevin Boyle, and many others. What would be more natural than for the library to bring these literary lights together for one reading or series of readings that touch on Bexley as an influence on their lives and work. This could be accomplished in cooperation with the newly formed Bexley Community Book Club.

•And what about the rest of the arts community in Bexley? This would be a great opportunity to spotlight that important aspect of Bexley life by involving the galleries, musicians, actors, Capital University and the Drexel Theater in an art hop that would put the Short North to shame.

•Bexley’s development was greatly influenced by the presence of Camp Bushnell, the Spanish-American War training camp near Drexel Circle. Infrastructure followed the camp east, and many people who visited were impressed with the open spaces and later built homes here. A camp of re-enactors at Jeffrey Park on Memorial Day weekend would be a vivid reminder of this time in history.

•Speaking of history, President Warren Harding was one of the most important visitors to Bexley when he came to Jeffrey Mansion. The Ohio Historical Society has a theatrical program titled "The Woman Behind the Man: The President’s First Lady," in which Betty Meneer plays Mrs. Oscar E. Bland, a friend of First Lady Florence Harding, who shares her joys and concerns about President and Mrs. Harding. How neat would it be to have the actress stage her interpretive program at a spot where Harding actually stood?

•What better way to honor the men and women who have helped made Bexley what it is, as well as plan for the future, than to break ground for a new police station this year?

I realize that some of these ideas may be grandiose, and I think the already busy people of the centennial commission are on their way to doing an admirable job with the limited resources they have been given.

But a 100th anniversary is no time to think small. None of us will be around to see the 200th.

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