The civic initiatives the German Village Community undertakes are first-rate. They are better than required, better than one finds on one's travels and better than I can sometimes believe.
Our architectural review process is a national model. We developed and published guidelines decades before other historic districts and we provide a privately funded staff position to help residents and property owners navigate the program.
Our community center is a handsome building and a remarkable resource. There is within a visitors' center open seven days a week. It is a volunteer-staffed space for the curious -- the people who are looking for maps, or shopping information, those who want to know how our neighborhood accomplished its restoration, and yes, of course, those who need directions to Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant.
The German Village Meeting Haus provides meeting space, archive storage, a place to hold a memorial service and a yoga class.
So, it goes without saying, from the time the neighborhood took on the job of enhancing the rather bare-bones Schiller Park of the 1970s, it has been park beautification and program enhancement on steroids.
The little group of people who wanted to put on outdoor plays on the grass hill? They became Columbus Actors' Theatre, complete with an amphitheater, professional staff and rave reviews.
The Huntington Garden? One of the most spectacular public gardens in the Midwest. The Umbrella Girl and Grace Highfield Garden? A quiet place to sit, a hosta garden worthy of the horticulturists it draws in, and a fountain that has become an iconic symbol found on the Associated Press newswire services and in John Glenn Columbus International Airport.
We take it all for granted ... and The Friends of Schiller Park are OK with that, because that's how things are done here; what else would you expect to find?
The only problem with all of this is rising to the occasion. When a milestone anniversary came along, a picnic supper on a Thursday night would have been, well, incongruent.
So, The Friends of Schiller Park thought bigger. Bigger, like a 10-foot tall birthday cake for the Haus und Garten Tour, with a photo booth where a "slice" has been taken out; more spectacular, like a brass band with a dancing drum major for a performance of "Saturday in the Park," and more creative, like nine artists from the Ohio Chalk Guild, each creating a 10-foot work of art.
Then we wanted to present a gift ... not a commemorative sign or a bench (how could we?), but a splendid new fountain for the pond, spraying three layers of water 12 feet into the air, with lights to sparkle on the surface at night.
That is Schiller Park at 150 years old. It isn't a case of keeping up with the Jones, it is the challenge of keeping up with the legacy of German Village.
What makes it all achievable is that the citizens of German Village, with their high expectations and elevated standards, have the generosity and industriousness required to get it all done -- with style.
It was, as always, a sight to behold to see the Village come together to host 5,000 guests on the last Sunday in June. And it was a joy to see Schiller Park looking so glorious for its birthday party.
Now, wait until you see the book The Friends of Schiller Park organization is publishing in August. You can be sure it won't be a random pamphlet with lots of sesquicentennial history and a few black and white photographs. But then you wouldn't imagine such a thing, not in the 43206.
Katharine Moore, chairwoman of The Friends of Schiller Park organization, submitted the Village Notebook column.