City of Kent kicks off 200th year with event

Katie Hilbert

The city of Kent celebrated its 200th birthday Saturday at the United Methodist Church of Kent, and four artistically decorated cakes from local bakeries helped kick-off what will be a year of celebration for the city and its residents.

The cakes, donated from Gloria’s Koffe n’ Kakes, Stahl’s Bakery, Judy’s Sweet Sensations and Wild Goats Caf‚, were part of a three-hour event organized by the Bicentennial Committee. The committee, which has 16 members, is co-chaired by Mayor John Fender and Pat Morton.

The morning began with piano music by David Dix, publisher of the Record-Courier, and a welcome and introduction by Fender and Dan Smith, the executive director of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce.

During the introduction, Fender explained what guests could expect at the event and said the event would last about three hours, so people would probably be coming in and out.

“If you stay three hours, you can become mayor, if you want,” he told the audience jokingly.

In addition to the tables of food and cake, a few tables displayed historical artifacts relating to the city’s history. Highlighting the history of Kent was a main theme of the celebration, with speeches by Bruce Dzeda, a historian and a teacher at Theodore Roosevelt High School, former Mayor John Carson and Roger DiPaolo, the editor of the Record-Courier.

DiPaolo took the audience on a tour of Kent in 1906, speaking in the present tense and explaining what the city looked like then in terms of buildings, shopping, entertainment, banks and churches. At one point, he mentioned that the city had 19 saloons.

“Some things never change,” he said jokingly.

Ohio Representative Kathleen Chandler also spoke, congratulating Kent on its bicentennial.

Kent resident Debbie White said she was impressed with the speakers. White said she decided to come to the celebration because she wanted to hear what was going on in the city.

“Everything was great,” said Regina Ekechi, another Kent resident who was pleased with the event.

Ekechi said she has been a Kent resident since 1969 and loves the city. She spoke enthusiastically about the day, with a large smile on her face, and she said she especially enjoyed listening to the ACES Choral Ensemble and hearing DiPaolo and Dzeda speak.

Those who helped plan the event also were satisfied with its outcome. Pat Morton, co-chair of the Bicentennial Committee, said committee members were unsure how many people would show up because the event did not require people to make reservations or RSVP. She estimated that between 200 and 250 people attended the event.

Morton said she enjoyed watching the community come together and collaborate in order to make the event happen. Mayor Fender also commented on the collaboration, saying there was a lot of camaraderie going on Saturday. Fender said the word that came to his mind to sum up how he felt about the event’s outcome was “ecstatic.”

“I just think it was a great kick-off,” he said.

Contact public affairs reporter Katie Hilbert at [email protected].