Kent committee plans to celebrate city’s birthday

Michael Lewis

When a city reaches its 200th birthday, the time is ripe for honoring the past, celebrating the future and planning a party.

Well, Kent residents, break open the champagne, call a DJ and hang some pinatas – the city’s bicentennial birthday party is right around the corner.

The name Kent was adopted by the city in 1863. Previously, it was known as Franklin Mills, which was founded in 1806, according to

The Kent Bicentennial Committee is organizing activities for 2006 to celebrate the community and bring its people together. Members of the committee welcome involvement from residents and the students of Kent State.

“We want to represent the people of the community and the students on campus,” said Kent resident and co-chairwoman of the committee, Pat Morton. “We want everybody coming together.”

Some of the planned events include a bicentennial parade, a series of six tours of the city and the commission of a permanent memorial symbolizing Kent’s history. The memorial includes a sculpture, but the cast has not been determined.

Recently, Kent City Council awarded $4,000 in “seed money” to help plan the celebration. The bicentennial committee requested an additional $20,000 last week. City council is considering their proposal.

“We’ll just say at outset that we are aware of the financial difficulties the city is facing,” Morton said. “We understand you (city council) have some difficult decisions to make.”

The additional money would help pay for all the events and activities that will take place throughout the year, which include a black squirrel decorating contest, a car show and an auction and sale of original art. Fund-raising plans are being planned to help pay for the extravaganza.

“These are fiscally tough times,” City Manager Dave Ruller said. “The city being a partner in this project is critical.

“We’ll give the naysayers a timeout, and for the people that are excited about Kent, we’ll give them a chance to be at the forefront,” Ruller said. 

Along with corporate and private sponsorship, the committee is accepting in-kind donations. Standing Rock Cultural Arts is presenting its limited edition Kent Bicentennial Tribute calendar.

“Learn who really paints the Kent State rock on campus along East Main Street,” said Karen Barrett, owner of City Bank Antiques. “You will be entertained and informed on every page.”

 The committee is seeking ideas and participation from the community for the year-long activities. Anyone interested should call Mayor John Fender’s office at (330) 678-8007, Morton at (330) 678-5671 or the Kent Chamber of Commerce office at (330) 673-9855.

Contact public affairs reporter Michael Lewis at [email protected].