Washington to honor 175thPlanning begins for yearlong celebration in 2014
Will next year be a dodransbicentennial year? Maybe it could be a dodrabicentennial. It could also be a dequasbicentennial. It could also be just a plain old dodrans.
Whatever term will be used to describe it, the Washington Chamber of Commerce is hoping the 175th anniversary of the initial platting of the City of Washington will be a big event for all involved. With that in mind, about 22 people attended a special meeting Tuesday evening to begin the planning process for what may be a yearlong celebration in 2014. It may also be a strong weeklong celebration, or a combination of both. The form hasn’t been determined.
“It went really well,” said chamber director Michelle Peiffer. “It was exciting to see citizens come from all areas and express their opinion. One exciting thing is that the people who came weren’t just people who have lived in Washington their whole life. There were quite a few who moved away, then came back or relocated here.”
Craig Swift was one who grew up in Washington, moved away, and then came back. He remembers the 150th anniversary celebration. He also vaguely remembers the 125th anniversary celebration from his youth. He joked that he also plans to be around for the 200th anniversary. He was there Tuesday evening to help with the planning of the latest celebration.
“There is nothing wrong with feeding into this so it lasts the whole year, but culminates in something really cool,” he said. “In the end, there is a real celebration and a party. To me, that is where it needs to go.”
He said that he remembers many “collateral” things from the former celebrations, including books that were put together to honor the anniversaries. He said many of those books were lost in the fire that destroyed the former Chamber of Commerce building.
He also said the plan needs to be in place later this summer so it can go on the state’s calendar of events for next year.
Mayor Sandra Johnson was one of the people who had relocated to Washington, originally growing up on a farm in Keokuk County. She explained to the crowd that the celebration was for the year the first plats were given in Washington.
“The incorporation of the city of Washington came nearly three decades after the first plat of land was sold,” Johnson said. “We’re celebrating 1839 because that’s when they put us on the auction block.”
Peiffer said that the chamber hoped to pull together some people from the community who are interested in forming the initial committee to work on the project. Once the basic idea is determined, the committees will branch out to approach as many sectors of the community as possible. She said regular meetings would begin soon. She also said there will be more opportunities from community members to assist in planning soon.
People interested in giving input or learning more about the event can call Peiffer at 653-3272. She encourages people to pitch in for the event.
“I can’t do nearly what I want to do if I don’t have volunteers and people out there getting excited about the project,” she said.