CAMDEN — The Village of Camden is currently preparing for the community’s Bicentennial Celebration, which will be held next year.
Camden native Karen Moss is in charge of planning the celebration.
Moss saw an opportunity to help her community when she learned village council was looking for someone to plan the bicentennial.
“I had been wanting to get involved in my community and I wasn’t sure if I was going to run for council or what I wanted to do,” Moss said. “Then when I realized our bicentennial was coming up and I knew no one had stepped up to lead it yet, I approached one of the council members at that time and offered my help.”
At that point, she had to attend a council meeting and see if the village was interested in her leadership. She talked about her experiences in event planning and coordinating. She shared her love of Camden and her desire to help her community.
They accepted her proposition, putting her in charge of the 2018 Camden Bicentennial Celebration.
Her first move was to launch a Facebook page.
“I knew so many people were on Facebook and I knew that was going to be a good way to communicate with our community and let them know what was going on,” she said.
The site launched on Dec. 30 and within a week the page had more than 300 followers.
Moss held the first formal planning meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 10, at Ron’s Pizza in Camden. This meeting was intended to generate ideas from community members.
Moss said, “One thing that came out of that meeting was, you have to decide what your goal is and we really know that we’re going to do something that is going to be very community-oriented. We’re going to focus on getting our community engaged and our unofficial theme is ‘celebrating the past and looking to the future.’”
Moss hopes with this theme to acknowledge history, but move forward as a stronger community.
There were 20 excited community members at the meeting. Myrna Matt, who is the wife of the late John Matt, Mayor of Camden during the 1968 Sesquicentennial Celebration, and Kim Hensley, who was the Camden Sesquicentennial Queen, were also in attendance.
Following the meeting, council member Kelly Doran gave a tour of the Camden Town Hall, which is nearing completion of Phase I of renovations.
With the Facebook page, Moss hopes to share stories of the village’s history. She said, “As we look forward to Camden’s Bicentennial Celebration in 2018, we want to also look back and reflect on the people, events, experiences that have connected and defined our community.”
She is urging people to share their own stories online. Moss added, “I published one recently about Donnie O’Dell who is now deceased. He owned the Sohio Station. We want to do some focuses, I think I’m calling it Camden Icons and Legends. We’re wanting to get some stories out about people in the community. Not just from the past, we want to talk to some newer people too.”
As of now, there is not a formal planning committee. Moss is interested in compiling one. Anyone can be a part of the planning by attending the monthly planning meetings, but for those interested in more responsibility she is looking to establish a “core committee.”
She added, “That will be five to seven people, the key people running the whole thing, but we are going to engage a lot of other people. There are going to be 20, 40, 50 people involved in various stages, depending on what we come up with that we’re going to do.”
As of now, the only certainty for the celebration is that it will be focused on “interactive community engagement.” There were many ideas shared at the meeting, but Moss admits they need to “narrow them down.”
She knows she wants to engage the schools, local churches, and any other interested organizations in the celebration.
She also is planning to have ornaments of Camden buildings made by Barker Ornaments in Oxford. These will be sold for a fundraiser.
She realizes not everyone is on social media. In an effort to not exclude anyone, Moss has an idea to distribute newsletters detailing the planning process. She will leave them at local businesses, so every community member can “be in the know.”
Moss added, “We want everyone, no matter how young or old they are, if they’re interested in knowing whats going on or in being involved — we welcome that and would be thrilled for that.”
This will be a “year-long celebration” but Moss knows they cannot do events every month. At the next planning meeting, they will discuss dates for a two or three-day celebration. They will also discuss a bicentennial parade which will be the focus of the celebration.
The meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 6:30 p.m. in the community room at Ron’s Pizza in Camden. Any and all community members are welcome.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH