Mansfield News

Mansfield starts planning year-long birthday party

For the dozens of volunteers planning the celebration of Mansfield’s 125th birthday next year, the first order of business was choosing a name for it. Or maybe ruling one out.

The candidates: “Mansfield 125” and “Mansfield Quasquicentennial.”

It was a no-brainer.

“Nobody had even heard the word quasquicentenial,” said Ann Smith, a member of the action committee planning a year-long birthday party for the city. “I think it’s great. I love learning new words.”

The serious planning of the Mansfield 125 action and steering committees has been under way for about a month. With a budget of about $90,000, the overarching concept is to piggyback on annual festivals and other events throughout 2015.

Those events might include signs with historical information about the city posted along the Walnut Creek Linear Park trail. Details are scarce now, but the events that could partner with the birthday celebration could include the Rockin’ Fourth of July, Hometown Holidays, WurstFest, Night on theTown and Pickle Parade.

“We don’t want to reinvent that wheel,” said Belinda Willis, the city’s director of marketing and communications. “We have lots of events throughout the year, and we could have a 125th element to those events.”

Planners also are looking at ways to create stand-alone observances and activities – like a trail ride and/or a cowboy poet to focus on the city’s wild west history.

And not everything would be geared for leisurely observance. One of the ideas that came out of the second planning meeting Thursday was to ask residents to commit to 125 hours of community service during the year. They would receive a long list of projects and activities to choose from – or any other cause the residents pick – that need volunteer help. The list could include the city’s animal control center and activities such as Creekside Cleanup, and Common Ground’s Feed the Kids summer program. The participants also would receive a logbook to keep track of their hours.

The first 125th event is the Winter Walk in the linear park Jan. 24.

The city of Mansfield incorporated in 1890 after its founding in the 1860s by Ralph Man and his brother-in-law Julian Feild. They built a grist mill at what would become the intersection of Broad and Main streets, the city’s historical ground zero. The city used the name Mansfeildfor a short time.

But the birthday party isn’t just to celebrate August 23, 1890, the day the city incorporated. It rekindles, at least for a moment, a broader interest in the city’s history, said Vern Raven, specialist at the Mansfield Historical Museum and Heritage Center.

“There are a whole lot of pieces in this 125 years,” Raven said.

A heads-up: In 50 years, the city will celebrate its Terquasquicentennial, or Mansfield 175.