Two local historians organizing a celebration of Parsons’ sesquicentennial gave city commissioners a rundown of the events scheduled for next year.
Dave Mattox told commissioners during a regular meeting on Monday that he and Mike Brotherton have been working on the 150th birthday celebration since March 2018. They have events planned for each month from March through October.
All of the events are planned as large gatherings but can be altered if needed if the coronavirus pandemic persists.
“Everything’s subject to change these days,” Brotherton said.
Each month of events will have a display and presentation corresponding to the book Brotherton and Mattox published, “Parsons, Kansas, 150 Years.” There are preliminary dates set for each event, but those could change. The displays will be left up all month.
The first display will be “Prairie Town” at the Parsons Municipal Building, and the presentation will be at Carnegie Arts Center.
Mattox said they wanted to showcase different buildings around town, so the displays and presentations will be hosted by several locations.
Also in March, David Beach will release his “Long Lost Labette” tour that will allow people to travel on their own to see remnants of old communities that no longer exist. The Parsons Sun will publish a special edition focusing on the 150th anniversary. There will also be a birthday cake on March 8 at the Municipal Building and a stamp cancellation at the Carnegie on the same day. Parsons was incorporated on March 8, 1871.
April’s display will be “Parks” at the Labette Community College Library, with the presentation at the Parsons Public Library. Also in April, there will be a visual scavenger hunt, the distribution of 150 trees and a tree planting at the Parsons Arboretum with a plaque commemorating the anniversary.
In May, the “Everyday Life” display will be at the arboretum and at the Parsons Recreation Commission during Katy Days. The month also will include downtown window displays. Mattox said merchants will be encouraged to incorporate the history of their buildings in the displays. There also will be some kind of contest for the public to get them downtown walking around. The Parsons Arts and Humanities Council will release a coloring book in May, and Ramon Martinez will lead a heritage run through a historic part of town. Also in May, there will be an Oak Grove School tour. The old, one-room schoolhouse located northeast of Parsons is a state and national historic site undergoing restoration.
In June, the “Everyday Life” display will continue at LCC. The month also will feature a coloring contest for children. They will be invited to color a page from the coloring book to be displayed in downtown windows.
The display for July, “Pastimes & Sports,” will be at the public library, which will host the presentation also. There will be a picnic in Forest Park along with games and ice cream on Fourth of July. The Parsons Chamber of Commerce will have its annual fireworks display.
August’s display will be “Community” at the LCC Ed Hendershot Gallery, with the presentation in the adjacent Thiebaud Theatre. There also will be a plaque dedication at Glenwood Park commemorating that baseball in Parsons began there. Mattox said several professional baseball players, including one “exceptional” pro baseball player, played there.
September’s display and presentation will be “Business Concerns” at the Parsons Historical Museum. The Katy Golf Course will host a Patriot Day golf tournament, and Martinez will lead another heritage run. The month will be capped off with a dedication of a restored large urn in Forest Park. The urn, which matched another one still intact, was removed and its based destroyed when the city built a new restroom in the park. The Parsons Area Community Foundation has agreed to fund the restoration of the urn. Brotherton said it will look as close to original as possible, and there will be a time capsule placed inside it.
The final month’s display, “Top 10 People/Events,” will be at the Municipal Building, with the presentation at the Carnegie. There also will be a dedication of the restored stone gates on the west side of Forest Park. The month also will feature an unorthodox tour of Oakwood Cemetery.
“This is going to be a fun tour. It is going to be unorthodox. That’s all I’m going to tell you,” Brotherton said.
The tour will focus on about 15 individuals with interesting, unusual and sometimes surprising stories from the early days of Parsons.
Brotherton said a display at the Kiwanis Club shelter house at Forest Park now shows the schedule of events along with a pictorial history of the park. Banners will go up hopefully after Christmas in downtown Parsons to honor the celebration, he said. Two billboards will go up on U.S. 400 in early December. Window clings will be given to businesses to display on their windows or doors as well as coasters.
For their work on the sesquicentennial celebration and their book, Police Chief Robert Spinks gave Mattox and Brotherton a challenge coin that commemorates the sesquicentennial of Parsons’ founding in 1870.
Mayor Jeff Perez also commended Mattox and Brotherton for their work.
“Parsons is lucky to have such a resource,” Perez said.
In other business Monday the commissioners:
— Heard from City Manager Debbie Lamb that the city staff would present the commission with a draft ordinance that would raise sanitation rates by 3%. The rate per month for regular residential service would move from $13.25 per month for $13.65.
— Approved an ordinance authorizing the city to issue $1.43 million in general obligation bonds to pay for main trafficway improvements. They also passed a resolution that will authorize the offering of bonds of about $3.9 million. That amount includes the $1,920,000 still to be repaid on the issuance of bonds in 2013 that also were used for street improvements.
— Approved payment of $25,210.26 to Heck & Wicker Construction Inc. for work completed on a 16th Street (U.S. 59) project from Clark Avenue to Broadway Avenue. The work includes a stormwater drainage system upgrade, new concrete surfacing, new sidewalks and a widening of the intersection of 16th and Main Street to allow for left-turn lanes.
— Approved payment of $51,494.24 to Greg Hinman Construction Inc. for concrete resurfacing of the 1400 block of Morgan Avenue.
— Approved the use of Marvel Park and the closure of the low-water bridge at the park from noon to 10 p.m. Dec. 3 for a Parsons Chamber of Commerce “reverse parade.” Floats and marching bands will be set up in the park but remain stationary while spectators drive through the park.
— Approved a bid of $54,440 for a 2020 Ford Police Interceptor Utility SUV and $51,160 for a 2020 Ram 1500 Special Service Pickup from Superior Emergency Response Vehicles, Andover. Both vehicles are for the police department.
— Appointed Leland Crooks as the city commissioner to serve on an advisory committee to help create an updated city comprehensive plan and zoning regulations. Two members of the Parsons Planning Commission will join the committee along with six people from the public chosen by the planners.
— Agreed to install two additional decorative light posts and lights at a cost of $5,200 in the southeast area of Forest Park and adding light fixtures to existing poles. A resident requested additional lighting in that area, and city staff agreed it is dark there at night.