Alliance City Council has dozens of reasons to keep the Downtown Special Events Commission alive.
Ironically, one of these reasons is several years of ZombieFest, an event where people dress up like reanimated dead people for some Halloween fun. Other reasons include the annual Slice of Alliance events and a summer concert series that packs the area around the Caboose with lawn chairs and music lovers on warm Friday nights.
These past successes likely were considered by council members when they voted against an ordinance last Monday that would have suspended the commission. Councilwoman Cindy King, D-2, noted in a Review story that residents who participate in the events love the commission’s work.
On Nov. 19, council will take up the fate of the commission once again. Options are to do nothing, leaving the committee as it is for next year; reconstitute it under the authority of the city; or change it into a private nonprofit.
That something needs to happen is apparent from the group’s online presence — or lack thereof. On the City of Alliance’s web page, the commission’s section notes that it may have "up to 11 members" drawn from residents of Butler, Marlboro, Paris, Lexington or Washington townships. Only four names are listed there currently.
The group’s Facebook page is similarly moribund. The latest listing, as of this writing, is an Oct. 16 reposting of a meeting about the Ohio Edison cleanup of contaminated land downtown. This is hardly an inducement for fun. Prior to that, the last post was mid-September, for the aforementioned ZombieFest.
We like the idea of the group having some level of autonomy from the city, even as we recognize that oversight of finances is essential for public trust.
As with many civic groups and organizations, the commission may struggle to find dedicated people who can spend the time and energy needed to make some of these fun events a reality. An entertaining afternoon or evening at the Caboose on the corner of Main and Mechanic may be only a few hours’ diversion for attendees, but it takes days if not weeks of planning on the part of committee members.
Similar planning-to-event time ratios are well known to members of the Greater Alliance Carnation Festival board, many of whom begin strategizing for next year’s festival shortly after the last firework at Silver Park fizzles away in August.
So finding willing volunteers will always be a challenge, but one that is worth the effort.
The various downtown events fill a special niche in city life, offering activities that draw people to a revitalized but still largely unappreciated part of Alliance’s history. It would be a shame to a group dedicated to programming in that area fade away or be disbanded wholesale.
Whatever council elects to do, we trust it will be in the best interest of the community, which can always use a few more reasons to join together with food and music.