The small town of Clarkson is about to mark a big milestone: Its bicentennial. Though the town will hold various events throughout the year to honor its history, the big celebration will be held during the town’s annual Good Neighbor Day on August 24 at Hafner Park.
Historic walking tours, live music, and a 5K race are just some of the events being scheduled for this year’s Good Neighbor Day. During this time, the town encourages residents to participate in random acts of kindness to show their good neighbor spirit.
Bicentennial planning board member and lifelong resident Patricia Galinski knows how special this day is to the town. Five generations of her family have called the Town of Clarkson home.
“I don’t remember the first [Good Neighbor Day] but I remember the sesquicentennial. Oh, there was a parade to celebrate. We want to have the kids do a reenactment. I mean, when you hear about what they had to deal with. Well, think about [life] 200 years ago,” said Galinski.
Galinski says she remembers the excitement she had as a child, celebrating the town’s 150th anniversary. She is looking forward to working with Town Historian Leanna Hale and Council Member Jackie Smith to research local folklore and historical documents. Their goal is to have the children of Clarkson reenact what life was like 200 years ago.
“We have photos of all the farmers or land owners marking their animals ears. We were thinking, if we had little kids do it, it would be cute to have them dressed up and have little cows with markings on their ears,” Town Council Member, Jackie Smith said.
The Town of Clarkson has seen plenty of change over the years, but one thing that this town has always cherished is the neighborly bond that small towns generate.
“The Hoy family and the Madison’s have lived in town for many generations too,” said Hale.
Good Neighbor Day is about bringing neighbors together, something that was not always simple to do.
“The first settlers, Moody Freeman and later Calvin Freeman, worked to clear the land and help put up a structure for that winter, and if they needed to get to their closest neighbors, they had to walk all the way to Leroy. Life was very different,” said Hale.
According to the town’s website, Clarkson was incorporated in 1819. Early settlers purchased land with grants from serving in the military. General Matthew Clarkson contributed 100 acres for the formation of the town. Many houses that were built in the early days of Clarkson are still standing in the Town Preservation District.
Town Supervisor Christa Filipowicz says she is excited for this celebration. She has been working closely with the bicentennial event planning board to coordinate the daylong celebration.
Planning board members say they want to bring all community members together, including the town’s youngest residents.
“The big things are the fireworks, the band, and the kids activities,” Filipowicz said. “We have a bounce-house, a slide, field games and a movie setup. Those take a lot of planning.”
Organizers are working on a wide variety of events. Jubiliee Christian Church Pastor Emelio Sebastion is another planning board member who is helping come up with ideas.
“My friend, Jim, does German dancing,” Sebastian said. “They call it shoe-slapping. They have their own following, and it would be entertaining to see.”
Good Neighbor Day is a free event that is open to the public.
“Stay tuned, we will be finalizing the schedule soon. We are here to celebrate the people of Clarkson. This day is for all of them,” said Filipowicz.
The people of Clarkson take pride in maintaining their rich history. Much likes the town’s slogan, “Preserving our past while building a future”, residents are celebrating this year’s big milestone and are looking forward to the next 200 years.