Mayor Dennis Deal announced during Tuesday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting that the event will not take place this year.
The celebration was founded by local churches and packed a crowd into the Church Hill Shopping Center parking lot the second Saturday every August with free food, live music, children’s games and inflatables, and a classic car show, among other attractions.
Deal noted that the city was willing to continue its past obligations to the event, which included providing cleanup staff, police and a financial contribution.
But in the end it was a church event, not a municipal one, and the city didn’t have the resources to keep it going alone, Deal said.
“A lot of these churches’ people are getting older,” Deal noted. “It’s one of the hottest times of the year. It’s looking like it’s not gonna go on.”
Last month Deal said that he would contact First Baptist Church Pastor Gary Gerhardt about the possibility of merging the Community Celebration with that church’s annual car show, which is also a huge annual event.
Deal noted that his primary goal was to try to save the children’s health fair, which was held at the Senior Center every year during the celebration.
But the FBC’s car show is always on a Sunday, which wouldn’t work out for the health fair volunteers.
“He (Gerhardt) said if there’s any money needed, if the Community Celebration continued, they would participate as a church,” Deal said. “I thanked him and appreciated what him and his staff and his people have done over the years.”
Deal noted that there is still a possibility the health fair aspect of the celebration can be salvaged, but as of Tuesday nothing had been finalized.
Vice Mayor Linda Miller, who was a founding member of the Celebration Committee 10 years ago, said there simply wasn’t anyone willing to step up and take the baton from the event’s founders.
“I just thank all of them for the 10 years that we’ve had sharing things together,” Miller said. “It’s been a real blessing for the city and the churches. They’re just getting tired, and the members — a lot of them are just not able to do as much as they did before. Maybe later we can start this up again because it’s been really good for the community. We’ll miss it.”
In other business Tuesday, the BMA:
— Heard a report from Deal that there will be a 2017-18 budget workshop at City Hall on Thursday, April 27 beginning at 5 p.m.
— Agreed to vacate a public right-of-way at the north end of Marsh Avenue which was platted in 1957, a year before the city was chartered. Deal noted that the property will never be developed by the city and will revert back to the adjacent property owner, which puts it back on the property tax rolls.