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City Notes: Unsung heroes

By Mark Wicks, Community Development Director

The summer of 2019 is officially in the books with the Labor Day weekend behind us.

Before it fades completely, I wish to take a moment and thank everyone involved for another successful summer of community events in and around Charles City this year.

The host organization for the Charles City Whitewater Challenge, Smoke on the Cedar BBQ event, and five-day Fourth of July Celebration was the Charles City Area Chamber of Commerce.

Our local Main Street program, Community Revitalization, was responsible for putting on the summer Party in the Park series, as well as the Firecracker 5 races and raising money for the annual July 4th Fireworks Show. Both organizations operate out of the Community Development Office at 401 North Main, and both share a joint director in yours truly.

As director, I sometimes receive too much of the credit (or criticism) for those summertime events. I’m here to tell you, though, that there are a lot of people involved in making these things happen.

Without these unsung heroes, Charles City doesn’t have organized festivities over the Fourth, isn’t able to host whitewater events on our river, and there would be no Party in the Park.

They just don’t magically happen. It takes a dedicated group of people months to plan, organize, round up sponsorships to help cover the costs and additional volunteers to help put it on.

A few of these people are Community Development staffers paid to do so, although not nearly what they are worth or for all the time and effort they put into it. People like Tourism Coordinator Ginger Williams, Events Coordinator Jen Solomon, Executive Assistant Christy Laube and our now former Program Assistant Dacia Becker.

They all deserve a great big pat on the back.

That includes bookkeeper Cathy McGregor, who keeps all of the different figures flying around each summer organized and makes sure all of the bands, vendors and activity providers get their checks.

The real unsung heroes who make it all go, however, are the ones who don’t get paid and that the public rarely sees or knows about – our volunteers. They come in all shapes, sizes, ages and skill sets.

Some serve on planning committees and are the ones who come up with the event ideas, while others are more like ground troops who show up to help implement the plan. Whether they volunteer a few hours each month or just an hour or two the day of the event, they are all invaluable in their own way.

Like I said, without them, none of these events happen. We appreciate and thank each and every one of you!

In particular I would like to take a moment to recognize a few key individuals who gave of their time and talents to make our two biggest summertime events possible – Party in the Park and the Fourth of July Celebration.

All of our event committees are incredibly important and their members most deserving of our praise and thanks. These two groups, however, meet nearly year-round and put in the most time, all so the residents and guests of Charles City have something special to enjoy during the summer.

Their events are not one-and-done. They span multiple days and have a major impact on our community’s social offerings and local economy. Between the two, they pumped nearly $100,000 directly into the local economy this year, not including the additional business our local restaurants, shops and service providers reaped because of the Fourth and Party in the Park.

Your 2019 Party in the Park Committee consisted of Ryan Venz, Kelsey Forsyth, Katelyn Marion, Craig Hamm and Kip Hartwell, along with staff members. Your Fourth of July Celebration Committee, meanwhile, was made up of Jacie Garden, Brandon Prichard, Haley Larson, Daniel Goodin, Christopher Hall, Heather Hobert and our staff. Please show them your appreciation should you see them.

There are many others I could name who volunteered and made a difference, folks like Mike and Pam Stoops who repeatedly stepped up to volunteer over the Fourth Celebration when they saw we were short handed, or like the Tom and Julie Bock family who year in and year out organize the Independence Day Parade for us.

The list goes on, all of which are incredible volunteers and I hope you will join me in saluting each and every one who gave of themselves for the benefit of our community.

I would be remiss in not giving a shout out to the organizers and volunteers of the other summer events like Relay For Life, the Floyd County Fair, National Night Out, the Art & Heritage Fest and the recent free Christian concert downtown.

Neither the Chamber nor Community Revite puts on those events, although we often help out in some manner, but we are well aware of how much time and effort goes into organizing and implementing them. They all add another positive dimension to summertime in Charles City, and we thank them for that.

I’d like to say we have a little down time now to relax and recuperate, but life doesn’t wait around. Our staff and volunteers are well into planning for the upcoming Chamber Golf Outing next week and October events like the Witches Night Out retail promotion and SpookWalk.

Planning is also under way for a new Progressive Dinner event in November and the Holiday Lighted Parade and Holiday Home Tour in December. Check out our website at for a Community Calendar and more information on those!

In the meantime, if you are inspired to get involved and help make a difference in your community, come talk to us. Our volunteer pool is always in need of replenishing and welcomes fresh, new ideas.

Remember, volunteers make things happen!