Clarke envisions high level of participation in centennial events

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It’s never too early to start planning a party.

That’s Councilman Jim Clarke’s sentiments as the initial preparations to celebrate Culver City’s 100th birthday in 2017 are being lined up. Earlier this month, the City Council approved the creation of a committee that will oversee the planning and coordination of all of the events and activities leading up to Sept. 17, 2017.

Clarke, who talked about some of his plans to the News during his reelection campaign earlier this year, said announcing the planning for the centennial three–plus years in advance is a sound strategy because of all the logistical and financial elements involved in such a high-profile event.

“I’ve spoken to other elected officials from cities like Torrance and Beverly Hills and what they’ve told me is ‘the best thing that you can do is to plan early,’” the councilman said recently. “So now we’re really trying to promote as much civic involvement as possible.

The idea for a centennial celebration was born last year during an event at the California Club. Clarke reprised a speech that was given more than a century ago by Culver City’s founder, Harry Culver, where he essentially was pitching potential investors a real estate deal that eventually became “the Heart of Screenland.” It occurred to Clarke that the city’s 100th birthday was not that far away and he decided to explore how Culver City could celebrate such a significant milestone.

“We want to involve all businesses, neighborhood groups, schools, civic organizations, anyone who has an idea and wants to contribute,” Clarke said.

“We want to showcase this event so others can see what an active and vital community we are. I think centennial celebrations are an important part of marketing for the whole city,” said Culver City Chamber of Commerce President Steven Rose. “And I would hope that this civic celebration is done from the bottom up instead of the top down.”

The councilman said he has spoken at some of the local schools to gauge their level of interest and one of the groups that he talked to were ninth graders who will graduate high school in the summer of 2017.

“Some of the things I think they could do would be art exhibits, poster contests and putting together a time capsule,” Clarke suggested. “They seemed very enthusiastic.”

Culver City United School District Assistant Superintendent Mike Reynolds agreed with involving the district’s students in artworks projects as a contribution to the centennial.

“I believe the concept would be for our students to create and submit original art work that would be incorporated into banners that would then be placed in various locations in the city and which would correspond to the theme of the centennial celebration,” Reynolds said.  “I felt that it would be an excellent opportunity for our students to contribute to the celebration in a meaningful way.”

Rose, who was born and raised in Culver City, thinks the focus of the centennial should be on creating a lasting impression that will endure long after the celebrations end.

“I think it’s more important to leave a legacy than on spending a lot of money on a one-time flash,” he said.

Clarke said he hopes to have the committee in place by the first weekend in July.

“One area that I would like to focus on is [honoring] people who have made a real contribution to Culver City,” Clarke said. “There could be a calendar were we could recognize them on specific days leading up to the centennial. The more people that are involved with this, the better it will be.”

Those interested in the centennial can write to the Culver City Centennial Committee, P.O. Box 4521, Culver City 90231-4521 or culvercity1000@ganil.com.

Clarke envisions high level of participation in centennial events