Archive for Tuesday, July 3, 2001

Celebrations vital for close communities

July 3, 2001

There is a town in Iowa, population of about 240, that has an annual celebration where everyone in town gets together and rides their bikes out to the railroad tracks to watch the sun go down.

It seems that at this one particular day each year the sun is in the right position to make it look as if it were setting right between the rails out in the distance. When all the conditions are right, it makes the rails look like they are liquid gold, fiery with the heat of the sun. Everyone cheers, finishes their picnics and celebrates their community's good fortune for the event. Sounds like lots of fun, huh?

I know that big city folks would either ignore this event or maybe even suggest that they all need to get a life. But it could be this event proves they do have a life a rich life, full of wonder and expectation.

We have grown accustomed to celebrations being the extravaganza of Super Bowl half times and the Olympic opening ceremonies. We think if thousands don't staff an event, have a superstar as the opener and take place in a stadium or arena that it really doesn't rate mentioning. I have been to a couple of those types of events and I think I would rather watch it on TV.

What does it take to have a celebration?

Obviously, the first requirement is something to celebrate. The list of possible reasons runs from a check in the mail right on through a national event. Of course, size and complexity of the event is linked to the occasion, but it is the fact that people celebrate that is important. Celebration is the recognition that something good has happened. It is a reminder that the world is filled with the possibility for something magical and wonderful to surprise us, bringing new vigor to life.

The second requirement is to have someone with which to celebrate. Perhaps the worst feeling in the world is to have something good happen and have no one to tell. There are hundreds of images from books and movies where a solo person is seen celebrating alone in a bar or at some place where other people gather to at least get the feeling that they are celebrating with someone. Good events must be shared to be fully realized.

Sometimes a specific physical location is a traditional part of the celebration. Many of the events of life are tied to a special site or area. National or religious celebrations frequently focus on geographic locales, but personal celebrations often do also. Many times, a return to the location is the major part of a person's celebration. Family reunions, anniversaries and birthday celebrations often are held in places that have strong emotional meaning for the people celebrating. It is almost as if the event is suspended in time waiting for the original participants to allow it to be re-wound and reviewed in a joyous fashion.

Community celebrations are a way to re-emphasize the bonds that hold a community together. Each special group of people finds ways to remind themselves of their unity and the joy of living together. Each celebration is a re-attachment of the bonds that we seldom recognize but hold us together in ways that gives us cause to celebrate. It is the one way we know we are a community.

We have been celebrating quite a bit lately. Our T-ball community got together last Saturday after its last game to celebrate. The guards at the pool celebrated Saturday night and we are getting ready to celebrate as a community in honor of our nation's birthday. Each event has or will strengthen our common bonds. There will be the usual food, games and nonsense that accompany all such celebrations, but more than that we will be together. We will laugh, joke and perhaps share a story or two that will forever make us just a little better than we were before. We will know that we are a part of something wonderful. We will belong.

The sun setting into the railroad tracks in Iowa doesn't sound like much to celebrate. It is not the fact that the illusion happens, but that the community considers it important enough to find a reason to get together. They know the importance of the event is sharing it together not the event itself.

We are celebrating tomorrow. I'll be there. Will you?

Monte the Dancing Bear glad to be a part of this awesome community. Baldwin City Recreation Commission: 820 High St.; Phone, 594-3670; e-mail,

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