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ISSUE: Founders Day 2012
OUR VIEW: E'town, volunteers put together a successful event
On the lawn at Freeman Lake Park, residents of Elizabethtown and beyond lounged in camp chairs and on blankets. At the end of a brutally hot day, dark was setting in. Families and friends chatted and kids played or absent-mindedly twirled glow sticks.
As live music faded, park visitors set their eyes to the sky, anticipating fireworks blasting over the lake.
The show, lasting about 15 minutes, was the culmination of the inaugural Elizabethtown Founders’ Day on July 4, an observance of the city’s birthday as well as that of the nation.
Although officials suspect heat held back the crowds, the event seemed successful.
It started that morning with a 5K run that raised thousands of dollars for USA Cares. Far exceeding organizers’ expectations, 300 runners showed up to support the charity, which aids members of the military and their families.
Evening attractions included a re-enactment of the acceptance of Elizabethtown’s city charter on July 4, 1797, by dedicated actors in heavy period costumes. A pie-eating contest provided good-natured fun and local band 3 on the Floor and rocker John Parr served up live music.
Founders’ Day was the first community event in a busy summer schedule for Elizabethtown event organizer Sarah Vaughn, who was hired in March.
Tasked to build a new event in little more than three months, she’s done well.
Still, she and other city staffers — including the Elizabethtown Fire Department, on call to mind the fireworks — couldn’t have done it on their own.
The hard work of volunteers played a key role in pulling off the event. Vaughn said Severns Valley Baptist Church organized a brigade of 60 volunteers who covered tasks from 8 a.m. until after 11:30 p.m. She noted the teens who walked the park with flashlights in hand to pick up trash after the fireworks. They worked hard and were happy to do it, she said.
Other volunteers worked in the kids’ play area, helped out backstage and parked a lot of cars.
The celebration is an appropriate addition to the summer festival lineup as it brings awareness of Elizabethtown’s roots and gives families another option in celebrating Independence Day.
From here, city officials must evaluate what activities were a hit with the crowd, what activities were not, whether each piece of the event supported the Founders Day vision, how the volunteer pool can grow and, essentially, how to make the second annual Founders’ Day a greater success..
This editorial represents the consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.