In the year 2020, the city of Mercer Island will celebrate its 60-year anniversary, and a new community-driven summer event called “MercerFest” will mark the occasion.
MercerFest will take place on July 11 at Luther Burbank Park, but leading community groups are calling on their fellow citizens, local organizations and businesses to make the event possible. They need donations and volunteers to help with planning and fundraising.
This event may be similar to, but is not a direct replacement for, the city’s annual Summer Celebration event, which ran for more than 20 years but was canceled permanently due to the city’s budget in 2019. Ross Freeman, city communications manager, said that MercerFest right now is only contemplated for 2020. But if it goes well, he said it could maybe continue in some form.
Freeman said at this point organizers have gathered a great deal of interest but need commitment from many more people for follow through and funding. Events of this scale take many months of planning.
The Parks and Recreation Department (P&R) is the main city department involved, but Freeman said the city views the community as leading the event. Diane Mortenson, P&R community engagement and program manager, said P&R is supporting the community vision, and that the two main community groups driving the effort at this point are the Mercer Island Community Fund (CF) and the Mercer Island Historical Society (HS).
Mortenson said the vision is for folks to gather with their family, friends and neighbors in the park to enjoy food, activities, entertainment and a fireworks show. She said at this point they are only calling for donations and volunteers, not vendors yet, as they are in the early stages.
The CF will be the organization accepting donations and sponsorships for the event. Mortenson said without knowing the full scope of work for the event yet, they do not yet have a target fundraising goal. She said it could be as much as $50,000 depending on the scale.
Debbie Hanson, CF grant chair, said the CF — which raises money to award grants to nonprofits bettering Mercer Island each year — is excited to be involved with the event for the whole community.
“Mercer Island is blessed to have so many residents devoted to community service and MercerFest is bringing us all together. Ideas and excitement are bubbling over,” Hanson said. “As a board member of the Mercer Island Community Fund, I am excited to be collaborating with other community leaders to plan this very special day of fun and celebration.”
Jane Brahm, HS co-chair, said the CF and HS started thinking about a way to celebrate Mercer Island’s 60th birthday several months ago, as the milestone is important to both organizations. Ten (10) years ago, the two groups partnered on a party at Mercerdale Park for the Island’s 50th birthday, and Brahm said they’ve decided another party is now in order.
“What’s exciting to me is the fact that Mercer Island’s summer event will be getting back to the way it used to be many years ago – smaller, friendlier, with volunteers coming together to make it happen for Islanders of all ages,” Brahm said. “And with the 60th anniversary of the city’s incorporation this year, it’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Mercer Island’s rich history.”
Brahm said she and her co-chair Terry Moreman are both excited for the celebration.
“As keepers of Mercer Island History, the Historical Society is looking forward to recognizing and celebrating this important event with all of our residents,” Moreman said.
At the volunteer-organized event, the organizers hope to have old-fashioned games like three-legged races as well as face-painting and crafts. Plus, there will be cake, music and a fireworks show, so Brahm thinks there will be something for everyone.
Brahm said they view MercerFest as a fun all-Island event that will bring together people of all ages and all groups from the community. The organizers are hoping many citizens and groups will step up to help them with the dream.
She said, specifically, they are looking for people to help with marketing, fundraising, logistics, operations, volunteer coordination, food, and entertainment or activities. To get involved, people can send an email with contact information to MercerFest@gmail.com.