Posts filed under ‘Charleston Village’
Part Five http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/why-lorain-the-lilac-city-the-paper-trail-5/
(Click on jpgs to enlarge)
The 1924 aerial shows the same area as it looked in Sept after the tornado. The photos were made by a local photographer “Somogy” flying out of Lorain Airport
Whilst the above photo does not have a date a similar photo tracked down by Dan Brady had a handwritten notation “prior to 1924″ written on the back
.(ED NOTE: this is up in the air literally- anyone have any information of the shape etc of gardens at Lakeview prior to 1924- the photo from BRHS with the handwritten prior to 1924 may not be correct)
***** After much discussion and enhancing of photos it is the consensus of opinion, Dan, Dennis, Bryan and myself the photo with the hand written “prior to 1924″ has the incorrect information .. it is possibly mid 1930′s It was not the original bathhouse pictured from the Metro Parks website
I have enhanced and cropped the aerial shot from Sept 1924 after the Tornado that is dated correctly- we cannot see any of the “rose garden wheel” in the photo and I believe some of the hardscape should have remained since it was very intricate.
Reading the article one realizes the “fountain ” was part of the plan and further reading of articles found it was dedicated to the Veterans of World War One – after World War Two it was dedicated to “All Veterans”
Mark Teleha of Lorain County Photographers Blog ( whose daughter, friends now appear in the Metro Parks Lakeview commercial for the park- There Is a Park for That
has award-winning photos of THE Fountain today and yesterday http://www.locophotogblog.com/?cat=31 .
Mark’s blog has the full history of how and when the fountain was built and it can be found here:
On July 15th, 1935, monies were allotted from the War Chest Fund for the construction of a lighted fountain at Lakeview Park. Work began by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) on September 16th of that same year, at a cost of $12, 450. The following February, on the 14th, found the War Chest Committee denying funding for the fountain. Superintendent of Parks George Crehore obtained permission to purchase scrap stone from the Quarries in Amherst.
On MAY 31ST 1932 MAYOR CONLEY DEDICATED THE ‘LAKEVIEW MEMORIAL ROSE GARDEN – TO ALL OF LORAIN’S MILITARY ORDERS
We are here that our soldier dead should be honored and it is to this end and in honor of the living that I now preset , in behalf of the city this memorial garden to you “
As we saw in Part 5 the Lilacs made somewhat of a comeback in 1939 – but time , wars and history moved on, things , people places and visions became blurred and Lorain lost her title of the City of Lilacs – but there are remnants left and
In August of 2007 Settlers’ Watch was dedicated
and the garden holds some special Lilacs
Photo Lisa Miller
one of which was planted by Bryan Goldthorpe – the Manager of Lorain County Metro Parks Lakeview Park ( caretaker extraordinaire of the very fountain and gardens ( and Lilacs???) the great-grandson of Mayor Paul Goldthorpe of the Lilac City who along with Bryan’s grandfather met the Lilac Train……….
The End of the Lilacs?????? - up to you – Lorain You can see the Trains and Trees display and the Charleston Village “Lilac” Tree here
And so it started – the next May 1931 -found the City of Lorain proclaimed City of Lilacs, contests were held for artwork, songs, competitions for the best lilacs , Queen of the Lilacs – both floral and in human kind, Lilac courts . In fact the Lorain Journal now ran the fact Lorain was the City of Lilacs across the front page of its paper
It was certainly Lilac Time in Lorain-as Mayor Paul Goldthorpe so proclaimed
That first year Mrs. C.E Kent of 1601 9th Street and her lilacs were proclaimed the finest in Lorain- Unfortunately I can no longer find the address 1601 9th street or for that matter 1310 the winner of the poster gone with the way of the Lilacs one would presume.
You see , what was at first the saving of Lorain by Lilacs, pronounced international and national recognition due to Lilacs, faded like the Lilacs of July.
What started with so much anticipation slowly died a death- by 1935 no longer was the Lorain Journal proclaiming Lorain the Lilac City on its banner, the event came to be “Bi-annual” – In 1939 The Pittsburgh Press announced :
Possiby the winds of war or at least Lilac apathy may have paid a part in the loss of the Lilacs- at least the festival, if held, no longer made the Lorain Journal with the vim and vigour of past festivals . At one time roses substituted for the event. Once again Lorain reinvented herself or tried to. About the same time a town LOMBARD , ILLINOIS also decided upon the Lilacs as a theme
Since 1930, Lombard has hosted an annual Lilac Festival and parade in May. “Lilac Time in Lombard,” is a 16-day festival ending in mid-May. It starts with the Lilac Queen coronation and her court. Many lilac themed events take place, including concerts, a Mothers’ Day Brunch, an arts and crafts fair, and tours of the park. The grand finale is Lombard’s Lilac Festival Parade
Lombard succeeded where Lorain failed and crowned their queen for the 83rd year in 2013 http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20130504/news/705049885/
NOTE: I could only find the name of the 1993 Lilac Queen
Jean E. Wilms http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com/2008/03/30/jean-e-wilms/
NOTE Update:: I received the following jpgs from a reader
returns as the Sesquicentennial Lilac Queen
Within two short months of the Journal editorial, the City of Lorain and all her organizations, were meeting the train to unload the first 5,000 Lilac on November 11th 1930. It had taken just a month to get the project up and running- and they did it without STUDIES or the internet for communication just the newspaper of the day and word of mouth.
Click on jpg to enlarge
Without all our “modern conveniences” flash drives, power point presentations , visual aids galore these “movers and shakers of Lorain in 1930 managed to move faster than we do today. The fact Lorain had a myriad of social service clubs at the time had to help and Lorain City schools came on board after the Chairman of the project Carl Robinson spoke to the 1,000 junior high children attending Hawthorne
Mayor Goldthorpe had the Parks department prepare all city parks to receive 700 of the 4 ft. high shrubs and trees. In fact St. Josephs Hospital, gas stations, businesses and private gardens were all going “lilac”.
Plans were made for the parks and in October an expert came to Lorain – Jean Henri Nicolas
Jean Henri Nicolas was born in 1875 in Roubaix, France, permanently moved to the U.S. after meeting his wife here (and promising her father he would not take her back to France), and died in New York in 1937. Although his love affair with roses started as a hobby, he became a world-recognized expert and gave up a business career to make his living in rose horticulture. In addition to writing three books on roses, his accomplishments included serving as the first Director of Research for Jackson & Perkins Company (when it was among the largest rose growers in the world), and before that served as a researcher for Conrad-Pyle / Star Roses. He was a Trustee of the American Rose Society, Vice President of the National Rose Society of England, and was frequently honored by the Rose Society of France and the German Rose Society. He held a doctorate in natural science for his accomplishments in creative horticulture, was a Knight of the Merite Agricole, Officer of the Academy of France, and Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor. And to top it all off, he was also a gourmet. As the French rosarian Francis Meilland once said of him, “He was everything all at once, a man of fine letters, a fine speaker, a good writer, a wonderful diplomat and a surprising geneticist
AND HERE IS THE LORRAINE FRANCE CONNECTION: IT WASN’T THE LILACS THAT WERE DONATED TO LORAIN AFTER THE TORNADO- THE LILAC, COINCIDENTALLY IS ALSO THE “NATIVE” FLOWER OF LORRAINE, FRANCE after which Herman Ely named the county and subsequently Postmaster Vorwerk re named Charleston Village after the county when she was incorporated in 1874 http://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2008/05/21/this-old-house-aint-got-or-has-it/
and from whence hailed THE EXPERT JEAN HENRI NICOLAS
IT WAS THE EXPERT WHO CAME – NOT THE LILACS
Click on jpgs to enlarge
Amazingly, ( considering what it takes in this day and age to get anything done) two years later the business district was back and as mentioned in part two so was the surrounding neighborhood.
Yes! that would be the pride of Broadway ( The Broadway Building) being built- I wonder what they would say to its worth today- a man-made tornado of destruction that is known as “NEGLECT”
Miss Harriet Root- 3535 E. Erie Avenue
More on the Root Story here
The one thing that was very important to communities ( world-wide) in decades past was the newspaper. I would imagine, for those early residents of “Black River”- then Charleston -then Lorain the importance of newspapers was it was one of the few sources of communication with the outside world. Now of course, we are in information overload with our internet scanning of websites of today with their ersatz sound bite news.
The newspaper back in the day , was just that, a paper full of news connecting people and communities. It was tangible, you could discuss the news of the day over breakfast or evening meal, decide how your day would be as far as business, or use it to put under carpets for padding or in drafty places to keep the house warm or light a fire, a source of bedding for animals , to clean boots and in England wrap your fish and chips. A newspaper, was indeed very important part of community. A strong newspaper helped to strengthen the community!
Lorain’s first newspaper was the Lorain Monitor and its editor, reporter, ad man, printer and distributor was a 16-year-old. This young entrepreneur went on to become one of Lorain’s finest citizens before the tragedy that wiped out 9 of Lorain’s then movers and shakers . You can read about Lawler and the Leo in the series here
Editors of newspapers held great power and sway -as some still do- it is their connection to the public , the ability to reach into the homes and minds of the general population. They have been courted by politicians, kings and queens, merchants and groups of all kinds just to get into print or in some cases “stay out of print” .
So is it any wonder when an editorial on August 22nd 1930 in the Lorain Journal called together the civic-minded groups of the day to embrace the idea of a city flower , especially when comparing Lorain to Washington DC and the cherry blossoms and by doing so was going to spread the word and market Lorain nationwide ( where have we heard that before ) a gathering of Lilacs commenced
Click on to enlarge !
The power of print caused Lorain, as Dan Brady http://danielebrady.blogspot.com/(the researcher for these posts) observed to go Lilac -looney. But again, you have to hand it to those citizens when they got on board with something they went all the way – you see this was seen as a way for “Community Development “. Just one day later the Lorain Journal ran the story – you will see in the article familiar organizations of today.
“the commission expressed itself unanimously of the opinion that the adoption of a community flower will doubtless contribute to a more beautiful atmosphere to Lorain and play no small part in furthering the growth and development of the city , even so with regard to our industrial development
Whew! a lot riding on the backs of those Lilacs…. more to come ! OH has anyone found the missing “red lantern on Reid” To be continued ……….
front porch sipping wine with other neighbors over 2 decades ago, there in lies the tale of the start of Charleston Village Society Inc - some woozy neighbors sampling the grape . We had a lot to learn those first months about the “history of Lorain” – Charleston Village. Two thirds of the group were transplants from other far away communities- a bit like the original settlers when you think of it!
However, we did hear from someone- I can’t remember whom ( wine has that effect) the Lilac was the flower of the city and there were festivals, songs and queens. We heard the stories of how after a devastating tornado Lorraine , France sent over Lilac bushes to beautify this devastated city – sounded reasonable and so we carried on perpetuating the “myth”.
In the past few weeks Charleston Village Society Inc. Outreach and Promotions committee took on the task of decorating one of the trees for the 2nd Annual International Trees and Model Train Display at Black River Landing as part of the Light Up Lorain Festivities .
We chose to decorate the tree with Lilacs and history. As we were decorating the tree, other participants asked Why Lilacs? and we realized we really didn’t know the whole story of how the Lilacs of Lorain came and “went”.
Thanks to Dan Brady of http://danielebrady.blogspot.com/ who was absolutely brilliant in his detective work with so much documentation from 1930 through 1939 we have at last separated myth from fact.
The story of the Lilacs of Lorain is one of coincidence , civic pride, leadership and the fact, no matter the decade, we tend to reinvent the wheel. Part Two will put paid to the myth of Lorain/ Lorraine but let us just go back in time to a time of devastation by Mother Nature.
This community had very little left to her after that dark day in 1924. You have to hand it to those citizens at the time, who in just a few short years, managed to bring back a community. They obviously took it upon themselves to get stuck in with apparently no federal help to rebuild.
My own house sits on a lot that had the previous structure destroyed and yet just TWO years later ( 1926) this was the result- a Mock English Tudor and a Mock Cape Cod were built over the cleared rubble of destruction – a mother and daughter occupied the now “split lot”.
Is it any wonder after the effort of rebuilding a city from the muck and mire there was just 6 years after the tornado a call for beautification….. to be continued
As a follow-up : Rick Payerchin and the Morning Journal expanded coverage of Tuesday nights meeting ( you know the one where I threw a wobbly)
The Morning Journal coverage Wednesday morning
had more to say today
Lorain housing study draws praise, but citizens frustrated
The study included a photograph of “my icon house” at 1034 W. 4th St, said Loraine Ritchey of the Charleston Village Society, which seeks to preserve the city’s oldest neighborhood in central Lorain.
The house has been vacant and falling apart for 40 years, said Ritchey, who moved into her Lorain home in 1973. She added she has bugged eight administrations and the building department about it for decades, and credited former mayor Joe Koziura, who at least made the owner repair the roof.
“It’s a disgrace,” she said about the structure.
“You have let this city deteriorate, all of you, all of us, because we talk,” Ritchey said. “I’m not saying you’re doing that now. I think you’re trying to use the tools in order to get money to help.”
Stronger building codes are needed, she said, not just standing on the sidewalk making inspections.
Ritchey also disagreed with the “niceness” of the report and said she believed the city’s housing stock is in worse shape than the report stated.”
What I didn’t say was that I have been complaining ( in this complaint driven process – AT LEAST THREE YEARS , IF NOT LONGER, THAN THE CURRENT MAYOR HAS BEEN ALIVE AND WHEN DAN GIVEN( mentioned in the article) WAS STILL IN GRADE SCHOOL.
How these “departments’ etc, because administrations come and go but the “departments such as Building Depts and inspections as well as Community Development or whatever name it now has are constant with each administration, can sit there – faces blank – the first we have heard of it glaze- knowing that since 1975 complaints have been made….
WHAT DOES IT TAKE IN THIS CITY TO GET OFF THE STUDY CYCLE TO ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING?
“It’s time to take the house down,” Husky said. “That’s like one of the worst houses in the city. I’ve seen a lot of other nicer houses that could have been fixed up that you tore down. I don’t understand why this house is still standing”
WHAT DOES IT TAKE? I suppose my latest frustration with this city is the fact that we as citizens have done what we were supposed to do, followed protocol and procedure – this house is not a one-off……. it is the icon of what is wrong with Lorain- citizens ignored through Republican and Democratic Administrations and the “allowing” of deterioration by those that are PAID a very decent salary to carry out the will of the people when it comes to their quality of life.
AND THE THERE SHE WAS IN ALL HER GLORY ON THAT BIG SCREEN – with the warning that houses like this “F” House will impact the A and B and C housing in Lorain-
January 31ST 2008 I WROTE:
THERE IS A SURPRISE – ( after we had spent $90,000.00 on yet another study and report:
There was nothing really new in the report from Staubauch except “time lines”. Basically the developers will know we have a mess but that we intend to take care of it, and how and when will be needed to be part of the package that is sent out with the RFP.
Get rid of the Urban Decay -
Clean up the entranceways and gateways to downtown
Fix the existing commercial and building facades on Broadway
Get rid of the Transmission Lines
Move the sewer plant
City Hall is taking up valuable real estate
Take advantage of your “history”
Bring in the Arts
Get rid of the eyesores
Camouflage the existing industry on the river and lake front
HAVE A TIME LINE for completion, a plan and how it will be financed
The faces in the room told it all
“ We have been saying the same things for years”,
However, maybe now, a $90,000 opinion will be listened to by our leaders
Oh and just incase you think well maybe the powers that “B” (make that an F) don’t read this blog I will share one of the many emails about the Icon House
From: Loraine Ritchey
Subject: Gow House 4th and Hamilton 1034 4th Street
To: “tony krasienko” , email@example.com, “phil dore” , “Richard Klinar”
Cc: “Cathy Deangelis” , “Date: Wednesday, February 4, 2009, 3:35 PM
For 34 years I have looked at this home deteriorating because for 34 years this house which was one of Charleston Villages oldest homes has sat empty I have attached a photo taken in 2002 by the County Auditor and another one taken in 2006 –
However windows have been broken out and it sits falling into further decay rapidly . This property is now open to the elements and to anyone who wishes to “use ” the property for nefarious means.
When Mr. Miller was the Safety Service Director he had it secured as undesirable activities were taking place – people using the property for criminal activities. This property is across the street from Irving Elementary School. Whilst we had great hopes last spring that the property was being purchased and rehabbed that deal apparently fell through and “nothing” has happened with that house for months except being open to the elements and becoming even a further eyesore.
Ideally we would like to see this property which was known as “The Bluffs” in its heyday rehabbed but something HAS to be done now- I believe a house that has been vacant for 34 years is rather a long time for us in this neighborhood to be patient Every day I look out my window at this picture of sadness and decay and I am not alone . I have written more than one article on this home . It is now 2009 and it is time for the owner Mr. Gow of Amherst to do something . Thank you Loraine Ritchey
And Dan Given , who as of Tuesday night had finished grade school, high school, college and beyond since I first started my “complaints “ and has had to put up with those complaints ,as he as part of the “legislative branch, sent them on the to “right” departments – along with others of his ilk stated :
“I’m still going to spin this thing back; the way we’re doing it now is broken,” Given said. “Issuing citations to property owners now, we might as well be writing them on toilet paper.”
‘COME FLY AWAY WITH ME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Come and lay down in the meadow
Rest your head amongst the flowers
COME AND SIP THE SACRED POISON
FLY AWAY ON WINGS OF MADNESS
It is probably time for me to just walk away FROM ADVOCACY- wrap myself in my ivy covered walls and let Lorain go- she is no longer good for my blood pressure. Perhaps, due to age and time, I just can’t go on looking at things with rose-coloured glasses as I posted on face book last night – maybe I am done with “data dancing” and studies. and the way “government works ( or doesn’t )….I no longer have the time left to wait for the results of government- not this Loraine or that Lorain.
I have just returned home from the Buildings and Lands committee meeting at city hall… I am bemused, disgusted, and totally fed up with the way this city and government postulates and procrastinate and uses studies as tools and YET for all their talk my icon house which was featured in the study was used as an example of the problem – trouble is this vacant house has been a problem and complaint driven to these same Lorain city government agencies for 40 YEARS!!!!! Lorain has no teeth in her building codes or enforcement but they talk a good game – give me strength it is like living with the fairies in this community!
Should you care to see the lack of teeth in our building codes and enforcement in Lorain here they are . I wrote series about our “enforcement” or lack thereof !
So what got me in a tizz- wozz last night? You would think the report from Thriving Communities Institute of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy- Sarah Ryzner, the institute’s director of projects, and Paul Boehnlein, GIS and conservation planning specialist as summarized by Rick Payerchin of the Morning Journal would have been something to smile about. You would be wrong !
We sat in the audience listening to the self- congratulatory twaddle that always comes with these “study projects”. We sat for 40 minutes whilst we learned about how the process went ,pregnancy and yellow T-shirts included, although quite frankly it should have taken no more than 10 minutes- but that too is par for the course.
And then the numbers!
Oh we aren’t so bad off at all with our housing stock as we were treated to examples of home gradings of A through F.
As I looked at the photos of what this group considered a “B” home I choked- the C caused me even more discomfort but the F example was my “icon home
Yes! the one that I have complained about on three different blogs for many years and to whom I have spent 30 of the 40 years it has now been standing EMPTY and open to the elements complaining ( and this IS a complaint driven process here in Lorain) through the BUILDING DEPT. Nothing happened with in 30 years of complaints but of course if you read the links of what the Building Dept. can and can’t do and taking into account the loop holes found by our illustrious slum lords ( oops can’t call them that now after this report, you see those homes are apparently B and C) well don’t hold you breath.
Complaints made to administrations that come and go , through Community Development, through representatives on city council , anyone who was PAID to listen and deal with these problems . Still the house on the corner of 4th and Hamilton stands as derelict and disgraceful as she has been for decades.
I would like to know the experience and knowledge as to the people conducting the study as to their expertise in Lorain’s building code violations, their architectural background as they stood on the sidewalk determining their A, B, C’s . The bar they set was so LOW as to what was an A, B, of C home was to me just another “Data Dancing” report to get the money to pay the piper.
So what ? These studies/reports are just another tool governments use is done all the time, nobody reads these things anyway – it is just used to show the whomever is doling out the dollars they have documentation. Oh look! we have included data in our quest for tax payer dollars.
Everyone on the administrative staff and council knew the “protocol” as did we.
That is fine only please don’t insult the intelligence of those of us who live here, who deal with those B and C homes with such a report.
WE have to identify the problems to fix them . BUT!!!! I can only stomach so much clap trap and I am full to overflowing.
I said my piece at the microphone, which included my differing opinion with the way the homes in this community are graded by this particular “study” and data, because quite frankly I have dealt with the “vermin” in some of those very homes B and C. I wonder the grading curve , was Lorain’s housing stock compared to Youngstown, East Cleveland certainly not Lakewood as their D even F houses would fit in the A category for Lorain according to the photos presented.
So what good my rant? It amounts to nothing, it won’t change a thing in the way government works, dollars are dished out , data is danced and Lorain continues, just as ranting about a house on the corner of 4th and Hamilton has done NOTHING we continue…….. . Oh the house will come down one way or another , either by its own volition or the system will “FINALLY” work but even as we speak this B and C homes so “nicely” portrayed are deteriorating with each rain drop , each broken window, each missing downspout, each building permit NOT USED or code enforced, each STUDY!!! My data doesn’t dance it screams …….
The only positive thing I took away from the meeting at least the City of Lorain didn’t pay for the study that was Nordson………….
Antus said this year’s ”Light Up Lorain” promises to be the biggest event in its five years.
ED NOTE: Actually since the Morning Journal was part of the “1st Annual” event back in the day you would think they would have had a greater background knowledge of the who what and WHEN!!!!
as to the correcting event history of LIGHT UP LORAIN took me back to the “first order of business” for the then fledgling “mainstreetlorain” organization ( Not to be confused with MAIN STREET Program – therein lies another chapter) ).
I had met, at the end of 1995, with Al Kirchner (Herman Kirchner Furniture) and members of the Downtown Merchants Association. Charleston Village Society,had at that time, been a somewhat viable organization representing Lorain’s oldest neighborhood for half a dozen years. The merchants had decided to move in a different direction wanting to be inclusive of the abutting neighborhood, after all you can’t have a healthy downtown without a healthy neighborhood, something that still holds true today!
It was a few months later I was asked to attend a meeting in the conference room at the Spitzer Hotel. The newly formed “mainstreetlorain” interested parties were in attendance . I only knew two personally- Gary Fischer (Arkinetics) and Al Kirchner ( Herman Kirchner Furniture). I had, of course, heard of the other attendees that morning in the spring of 1996. I was introduced to Joel Kruek (Lorain National Bank), Anthony Giardini ( Spitzer ) Dick Gieonopi (Crystal Clear Cleaners) Scott Beyers (Jax Mens Wear and Endless Summer ) Mary Smith ( Morning Journal) .
I sat and listened, during that first meeting, as to how they wanted to form an organization, following a plan to promote the “downtown area of Lorain” . A number of suggestions were discussed including Gary Fischer outreaching to the National Main Street group as to recommendations, looking at funding sources and so forth, contacting the city, designating the area which would come under the “mainstreetlorain” umbrella, contacting the Koziura Administation as to the intent of the organization and to keep them up to speed.
Just before the meeting was to end Anthony Giardini stated : (I am probably paraphrasing here a little.)
If we are going to promote the business area in Lorain then we need a kick off event . I am sick of those tattered lantern decorations that the city puts up every year. They need to go and be replaced. We need to purchase new decorations , we need them to go along Broadway on every light pole, we need to have a centralized location and light trees in front of city hall”
I am not sure who came up with the idea of Veterans Memorial Park, I think it may have been Al Kirchner , as the ideas were now coming fast and furious around that conference table, Gary Fischer was aglow:
“Fireworks!!! we must have fireworks, let us have the Mayor throw the switch, I will build the switch with a flash bang and when it is thrown the lights will come on that will signal the guys to light the fireworks , and the firework display will start.
There was some conversation about warning Mayor Koziura about the switch!
Dick said “
hot chocolate, lets give away hot chocolate and cookies, candy canes
someone else said
bands, carol singing, the library has “characters, Santa Claus, wait let’s get the Palace involved, let’s have a parade….. what shall we name it?
- various names were tossed around – Celebrate Lorain , Holiday Lorain and it was Gary Fischer who said
“How about Light Up Lorain!!!”
and everyone agreed!
And there I sat – wondering what all this was going to cost? I didn’t say a lot – I had been down this path before, lots of great plans and ideas that came to nought.
Finally calm was restored and Anthony Giardini said
are we all agreed we will have the kick off event for the organization the Saturday after Thanksgiving?
so that will be 1997 right
OH NO! it is going to be this coming Thanksgiving !!!
ERRRRRRRR do we have any money ?
No” we are going to have to raise the funds, we will meet next week.
In the meantime, Gary contact American Fireworks and get quotes, we will contact the city and get their thoughts and how this will work with their programs- Mary, talk to Kevin Walsh (the Journal Publisher) about publicity, Loraine we will need Charleston Village to act as our non-profit so donations will be tax-deductible, Joel talk to the bank etc. etc.
and off they went out the door leaving me somewhat dumfounded. I honestly didn’t think they stood a hope in hell getting this off the ground – you see it was already the end of May.
The next week’s meeting had the same people gathered , excitement filled the air, quite overwhelming my caution. There were some new faces ( Rich Robbin ( my co-chair of CVSI- I definitely needed a cooler head to back me up in case I had to be a negative! That idea went south when he agreed to be Santa Claus.
Vivian Alexander, was there representing the City of Lorain, she had come with the quote for the lights , with the discount it was about $59,000 dollars for the wreaths, holders, lights in the trees and standing decorations.
Gary had a quote of $3,600 for a fifteen minute display of fireworks. The hotel would provide the hot chocolate , Tom Boyer and family would man the tent with chocolate and baked goods and provide the tent! The Morning Journal would run a story, the Palace would be on board with Billy the Clown and a parade as well as the Lorain Police Department and Lorain Fire Dept.
Mayor Koziura would see to it the Street Dept and Chuck Camera and crew would hang the lights and wreaths along Broadway and in Veterans Memorial Park. Jimmy Dillion, from the Electrical Dept would see to it there was power in the park and at City hall. Lorain Public Library and Terri Fredericks would bring in “characters” and Frank and Carolyn Sipkovsky from Black River Historical Society would help liase with the museum , coordinating holiday displays at the museum and canned good donations etc.
The only fly in their ointment that first year was the Lorain City Schools thought it would be too cold for their choirs and band. However Clearview Band had no such problem and Bobbi Emery stepped up to the band stand ( literally). Elvis would entertain. We had a commitment from Alan Spitzer to pay for the fireworks!
We had our MC Gary Fischer who two years later was joined by his assistant Natalie Fischer although she wouldn’t be talking for a while yet – the program for the night was set, the food, fireworks all seem to be in hand. BUT the nagging little voice kept saying
errrrr what are we going to light up because the “lighting vendor” wanted to be paid before they delivered and I didn’t have 59,000 hanging about in CVSI accounts
We were now in June- Once again it was Anthony Giardini -
we will have a Christmas in July fundraiser at the hotel, Mary and Loraine you take care of decorations, the invitations etc. etc.
And so the fundraising started , there were afternoons spent at Scott Beyers’ store ( since he had multiple phone lines) calling donors , getting pledges it was a busy few months.
“mainstreetlorain” had its first “member ” Alan McCartney ( SQP) Print Center, he more than paid his dues as I was always running in for “can you print this please….” It was well deserved his family became front page as they watched the fireworks on that November 30th night of 1996 and the 1st Annual Light Up Lorain!
The funds were raised and the lights delivered however to our amazement over 100,000 light bulbs needed to be screwed in , hundreds of thousand of feet of wire had to be stretched out , every display needed to have their bulbs attached. Frantic calls to Frank and Carolyn, their volunteers, the girl scouts, the boy scouts, the school kids, Alan Spitzer donated the hotel and lunch but due to hotel commitments it had to be done in three hours. The Spitzer Hotel ballroom and hallways were filled with wire , bulbs and laughter but the volunteers came through and they got it done in time .
There were some difficulties along the way even then, the test run saw one exploding reindeer in front of City Hall- and George Koury commenting
in every battle at least one soldier must fall.
I was concerned it may be the mayor and that exploding switch!
And lessons learned – As the Fire Dept rushed to the scene during the fireworks extravaganza ( as we lit them on top of city hall- a place well known for fireworks”) the ensuing smoke was sucked into the air vents setting off alarms throughout the building- I do believe that was the 1st and last time for fireworks on the roof!
Since THAT 1st Annual Light Up Lorain Event the “mainstreetlorain” organization became Lorain Growth Corporation and has seen directors come and go, new committees have succeeded those of the original group they have added a great deal to the Light Up Lorain, Santa has a wife and a kitchen, window displays and more lights, there are bonfires and icesculpting planned, rocket rides but along with Gary Fischer the one and only constant from those days in the 1996 it is about celebrating the holiday Lorain style!
So you see when publicity for the Light Up Lorain event has been promoted as the first annual, or the 3rd annual and recently the 5th annual as the headlines last week; I took exception!
Yes! I had my own brand of fireworks going off because I can still remember sitting around that conference room table in 1996 thinking OMG these people are off their trolley this will never happen by November 30th 1996… but it did because they had a vision and a passion and a willingness to work together for Lorain!
THIS YEARS LIGHT UP LORAIN CELEBRATION IS ALSO NOVEMBER 30TH 2013