‘Tis the season to celebrate downtown. It’s a good thing there are only 31 days in the month of December. A person could get plumb worn out attending holiday festivities.
The holidays kick off with events like Hometown Holidays, bridge lighting, Santa parade and this last weekend, the Christmas Stroll downtown. Then we had a volunteer open house here in our Sumner Downtown Association offices a week ago and last Tuesday Windmill Gardens hosted our annual Sumner Downtown Association Christmas party. Though this is a lot of activity downtown, it truly is what makes Sumner connections so strong.
Take for example our volunteer open house. Many people become volunteers because they want a connection to the community. They are sometimes new to town, or their work schedule and commute mean late and long hours. Whatever the reason, they want to get to know people in Sumner. I can guarantee that one stint working on the daffodil float, a wine walk or mutt show and you get to know folks pretty well. Volunteers like to keep busy at events and have the opportunity to interact with the public. But at an open house like we had, I learned who could sing and who couldn’t and who could act and who believed they should not give up their day job to become a thespian. When I sit in a room with all these people who give so many hours to our downtown, watch and listen to the stories and laughter, my heart fills up at the sense of community you can feel building. It’s humbling to see such generous people gather and focus on our downtown.
Then switching gears a little and putting on my downtown director’s hat, I was excited to give a little presentation at our Christmas party that listed some of the successes the association achieved in 2008 through the many partnerships that are the foundation of our community. Membership is up 7 percent, volunteer participation is up 25 percent, a smart communities award from the governor, a historic preservation ordinance adopted by the city council, and a city-wide branding campaign organized and now utilized by many in our city. We also awarded the first Tim Hyland Volunteer Excellence Award to Theresa Fremont of Northwest Bodyworks and we hosted a Wii bowling tournament at the party thanks to the creative efforts of Cami and Mike Cadle at paperMuse. If you happen to bank at the Washington Mutual downtown Sumner branch, be sure to congratulate Matt Hutchins who won the tournament by creaming his boss, branch manager Sue Jacobsen, in the final round. The prize was a free Wii game system and I don’t think he felt one bit bad beating Sue. Too funny.
So to Dave and the gang at the Cannery, Ben and his staff at Windmill, Mama Stortini’s, Heritage Bank, Ascension Production, Sumner High School jazz band, city of Sumner administration staff, the Santa float crew, downtown merchants and our terrific volunteers, thanks for making Sumner such a great place to spend some time during the holidays.