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Open Mike

Sunshine Days draws little interest

The City of Sunnyside can take a lot of pride in a number of different things.

Some examples of our shining moments include the stellar farm implement parade that occurs every winter and the community's Cinco de Mayo celebration.

But it amazes me of the reaction by many local residents to the scaling back of the Sunshine Days celebration in September.

I have actually been surprised by the lack of response from the community, and especially the civic leaders to the announcement from the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce concerning Sunshine Days now being only one day instead of three days. For those who don't know, Sunshine Days is usually a three-day event, where Sunnyside residents gather to celebrate the success and rich history of the community. Sunshine Days has actually been around a lot longer than most might think. The concept evolved from the celebration of Ford Days in the mid-1900s. Sunshine Days has a history where the community gathered to celebrate its past successes and future endeavors.

I actually don't hold the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce at fault for its decision to scale back Sunshine Days. I guess the saying "build it and they will come" doesn't hold true in this scenario. It is a shame because the streets of Sunnyside should be just as packed for Sunshine Days as they are for the Cinco de Mayo celebration. In all honesty, why should chamber officials spend all of their time and money to put together the Sunshine Days activities and have no one show up.

I was speaking with Chamber President Tom Gaulke earlier this week and he said there was an estimated 500 people that attended Sunshine Days last year. How sad is that, only 500 people out of a community of 14,500 turned out to celebrate in Sunnyside? Gaulke also told me that he has heard little from the community on the chamber's plans for Sunshine Days, which is also sad to see.

Chamber officials, though, aren't ruling out the possibility of reinstituting the three-day format for Sunshine Days next year, based on the community input they receive following this year's one-day function. But my guess is the City of Sunnyside and its residents will drop the ball and let one of our featured activities just simply disappear.

I've tried to figure out why Sunnyside residents don't want Sunshine Days any more. Sunshine Days is supposed to be the essence of what this community is about. Contrary to what everyone says, the Cinco de Mayo and Fourth of July celebrations do not represent what Sunnyside is about. Both are celebrations of the history of the Hispanic and American cultures. Sunshine Days is supposed to be unique, an event that recognizes the accomplishments of what the town has done. Neither Cinco de Mayo nor the Fourth of July are designed to do that.

I hope Sunnyside residents and their leaders step to the forefront this September. Let the chamber officials know your feelings. It would be shameful to let the backbone of our community celebrations simply vanish. Sunshine Days is Sunnyside and Sunnyside symbolizes Sunshine Days. And it would be unfortunate if all that is lost for no good reason. So don't be complaining this September when the annual Sunshine Days parade goes through Sunnyside and then there is nothing else to do. We did it to ourselves and that it is the disappointing part for this community, which usually steps to the plate.

. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at mkantman@eaglenewspapers.com

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