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Sunnyside Sunshine Days makeover being addressed

Ideas they've got, what they need are Sunshine Days committee members to bring those ideas to fruition.

The nucleus of what is the new planning committee met Tuesday night to plan the revival of Sunshine Days, Sunnyside's community days celebration

"We have a lot of ideas," said Pat Kezele, who is the acting chairperson for the fledging planning group. "What we need are committee members to flesh out the events."

Last year the Sunshine Days event nearly died. The event was limited to a parade and a concert in Centennial Park, a breakfast at Sunnyside High School for community members and the Miss Sunnyside Pageant.

"It was not a very successful event," said Kezele.

After hearing an outcry of displeasure from the community, many of whom requested a return to the Sunshine Days of old, a small group of concerned citizens began gathering last month to revitalize the 40-year-old community celebration.

"But we need people to step up and put their words into action," said Kezele.

The eight people who attended last night's planning meeting began by discussing an event name change, a date change for the three-day event, as well as suggestions for event activities.

The name change discussion centered on the committee's desire to reflect the community's cultural diversity, as well as planning of events which would appeals to all segments of the community.

Among the name suggestions were "Fiestas Unidas" (Fiesta United), "Sunshine Days and Dia de la Independencia de Mexico," but the group hasn't completely settled on any single new name.

However, all were agreed that the event should continue to be held the third weekend of September, which this year falls on Sept. 16, 17 and 18.

At the previous planning meetings, the group discussed moving the community event to October, but most felt that wasn't a good idea, explained Kezele.

Among the ideas to come from the previous brainstorming meetings were sponsoring such events as a Volkswalk, a biathlon, a family movie night in the park, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, in addition to the traditional street fair, a carnival, the Miss Sunnyside Pageant and the annual Sunshine Days Parade.

"I'd like to see the addition of an arts and crafts show and possibly a farmer's market," suggested Dorothy Leonard of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

Carrie Stone, who recently jointed the Chamber as its new marketing and events coordinator, suggested the celebration also include a street dance, in addition to three days of live entertainment.

"We recently received the approval to sponsor a summer of entertainment centered around the Centennial Square gazebo," she said.

Stone said the Chamber plans to begin its concert kick-off in May during the Sunnyside Cinco de Mayo celebration.

"It seems ideal to finish up the series during our September event," she said.

Other suggestions to come from Tuesday's meeting included a Mr. Sunnyside contest, as well as discussion of a fee schedule for commercial vendors and non-profit vendors. Stone said the Cinco de Mayo committee charges $150 for the three-day event for commercial vendors and $30 for the non-profits.

"I think something similar would work for the Sunshine Days event," she suggested.

The Sunshine Days planning committee will meet again Tuesday, March 22, at 6 p.m. in the Sunnyside Chamber of commerce office, 520 S. Seventh St.

"We encourage anyone interested in helping with any aspect of the celebration to attend the meeting," said Kezele.

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