Bicentennial celebration is a ball

Heather Scarlett

“Oh sweet,” Tony Safford exclaimed after he saw what Neil Roth, of Akron’s Get Painted, airbrushed on his face. Safford paid to get the skull airbrushed on his face out of his own saved allowance. ALLIEY BENDER | SUMMER KENT STATER

Credit: Steve Schirra

       On the evening of June 30, the Twin Lakes Country Club ballroom was bustling with excitement, color and the spirit of celebration. Guests mingled and enjoyed the atmosphere, anticipating the events of the night.

A singer accompanied by a four-man band provided an eclectic music selection for the evening, and an hors d’oevures table boasted everything from lobster bisque to fondue.

It was all in celebration of Kent’s bicentennial anniversary, sponsored by the Kent Historical Society to honor several distinguished citizens of the city. The program, officially called the Tree City Ball, began at 6 p.m. with a “social hour,” complete with hors d’oevures and a cash bar.

The location was chosen because of its historical significance.

“Twin Lakes is part of Kent State history,” said Sandra Halem, president of the Kent Historical Society Board of Trustees.

Jim Myers, board member and founding member of the Kent Historical Society, said that before the university was founded, three or four committee members came from a delegation in Columbus to see the Kent area and decide if they wanted it to be the future site of a university.

They were invited to a bluegill fish dinner at Twin Lakes and liked it so much that “they never got out of Kent,” Myers said. “It should be the Bluegills, not the Golden Flashes.”

The Kent area was subsequently chosen to be the location of Kent State. Ultimately, it came down to a “few beers and a couple of cigars,” said Communique Editor Margaret Ann Garmon.

Before the awards were given, Halem welcomed the 68 guests to the Society’s first-ever endowment event.

“We want to educate and celebrate,” she said.

Halem’s husband, Henry, an art professor at Kent State for 29 years, made two sculptures of glass homes that were presented as awards.

“My wife asked me to make the sculptures, and I don’t say no when my wife asks,” he said.

The awards signify that Kent is made up of single-family dwellings, Henry Halem said. In addition, “glass is fragile as the family is fragile. It’s a strong metaphor,” he said.

The Legacy Award was given to Kent State for its renovation of the college’s historic front campus. David Creamer, vice president for administration, accepted the award on behalf of the university. Creamer said Kent State is very pleased to be preserving the front campus, and it is excited the Historical Society is showing its appreciation.

The Leadership award was given to John Carson, president of the Portage Historical Society, for his dedication to the collection of historical artifacts.

“It has been a privilege for me to collect,” Carson said. “Everything we do starts at home, so we can give to our children and our children’s children.”

Earlier in the evening, Carson had shared a memory of what makes Kent special to him. When he (John Carson) was mayor, famous show host Johnny Carson was at a press conference in Kent.

Announcers said, “Here’s Johnny!” three times to get him to come out.

Carson said first he came out, then his son (also named John Carson) and finally the show host.

The third award was presented to Guy Pernetti for Recognition of Outstanding Service.

“It is nice to be honored, especially by (your) hometown,” Pernetti said.

Pernetti, like Carson, took the opportunity to reminisce about Kent pastimes.

Years ago, Pernetti met with members of the Masonic Lodge to see about restoring it, Pernetti said. On a tour of the basement he found a “baseball-sized marble,” he said. Upon asking about its origin, Pernetti was told that no one had ever seen it.

Those with him told Pernetti that Kitty Kent, a previous resident of the lodge who had died in a fire there, had given the marble to him.

Pernetti later learned that the marble was a German cane marble, similar to a paperweight.

After the awards ceremony, British vocalist Helen Welch entertained guests .

Welch, who lives east of Kent, said that what she “loves about Kent is that it still has a homey and intimate atmosphere to it.”

Later in the evening, couples could be seen dancing to a variety of music, including swing.

Guest Claudia Amrhein was among them.

“The Bicentennial is part of our heritage,” she said. “It is part of our past and it makes it so we can look forward to the future.”

Contact general assignment reporter Heather Scarlett at [email protected]