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How Akron is planning to celebrate its 200th birthday: What we know so far

'The goal is to showcase 200 years of community contributions, achievements and milestones,' said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan.
Credit: Christopher Boswell - stock.adob
File photo of Akron.

AKRON, Ohio — It may be several years away, but Akron is already planning its milestone celebration in honor of the city’s 200th birthday in 2025.

The Akron Bicentennial Commission, a new mayoral advisory board, has been established to oversee the planning and programming for the big birthday bash. Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan’s office said it’s a citizen-led initiative that will eventually have representatives from neighborhoods, special interest groups and every ward in the city.

“The goal is to showcase 200 years of community contributions, achievements and milestones,” Mayor Horrigan said in a press release Wednesday morning. “We aim to encourage the widest possible involvement of the people of Greater Akron in the Bicentennial celebration, so that all citizens feel a sense of participation and pride in the commemoration of Akron's rich history and bright future.”

The Commission is set to plan a series of events with input from the community surrounding these four bicentennial themes:

  • Akron history
  • Civic pride
  • Innovation
  • Legacy

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Here's a quick history lesson provided by Akron city officials:

On Dec. 6, 1825 General Simon Perkins filed the plat of Akron at the courthouse in Ravenna. Akron’s 200th year begins Dec. 6, 2024, and in line with prior commemorations of city anniversaries (1925, 1975, 2000), the Akron Bicentennial Celebration is scheduled to take place in July, 2025. Special events would also mark Dec. 6, 2025, Akron's actual 200th anniversary.

“It is expected that there will be large, city-sponsored events in keeping with how Akron celebrated its Centennial in 1925 and the Sesquicentennial in 1975,” Mayor Horrigan’s office said. “The Commission will establish a process to request applications from community organizations (schools, churches, neighborhood groups, associations) to create programming that will be open and accessible to the public and to ensure that the year-long commemoration is inclusive and reflective of Akron. Workgroups will be established that will create opportunities for hundreds of citizens to participate in bicentennial activities.”

There are two activities for which planning is already underway:

  • The Akron History Center at the Bowery will create a long-lasting, free, museum-quality exhibit about the 200-year history of Akron and will be the leading edge of the city’s 2025 Bicentennial celebration. A preliminary study is underway to determine the feasibility of an exhibit that will be operated by a coalition of community groups at 156 South Main Street.
  • A new anthology of Akron history written and researched by a dozen authors/writers of Akron history, to be overseen and published by the University of Akron Press and released before 2024.

The following long-time Akron residents have already been appointed by Mayor Horrigan to serve as Honorary Chairs of the Akron Bicentennial Commission:

  • Marco Sommerville, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor for Intergovernmental Affairs
  • Hon. Elinore Stormer, Judge of the Probate Court of Summit County
  • Dr. Cynthia Capers, Emeritus Dean and Professor of the University of Akron, College of Nursing
  • Ernest Pouttu, President and CEO, Harwick Standard Distribution

Mayor Horrigan also announced that he has selected civic activist and former Deputy Mayor of Akron, Dave Lieberth, to serve as the volunteer Executive Secretary of the Bicentennial Commission, who will provide the initial staffing for the planning group.

By the summer of 2022, Mayor Horrigan said he expects to appoint the 24 members of the larger Akron Bicentennial Commission, and to announce the workgroups that will do the actual planning.


Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in an unrelated article on Jan. 25, 2022.

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