Centennial celebration wraps up with a bow

Jan 12, 2016

BATAVIA — The city of Batavia’s second century began Monday by capping off the year-round centennial celebration and the people who led it.

Members of Batavia’s Centennial Committee offered champagne glasses topped with sparkling white grape juice to everyone at Monday’s city council meeting, one filled with cheers for the events and relationships created to mark the city’s 100th birthday.

Their work is done. The fireworks have boomed, the trees have been planted, the history has been proclaimed. A time capsule greets entrants to the city hall.

Members of the Centennial Committee share a feeling of deserved pride for the past century and the past year mingled with hopes for the coming century.

“We wanted a year-round, community-wide celebration of our city. We wanted to create events that appealed to all generations and to help promote other community events and agencies,” said Krysia Mager, who chaired the centennial committee.

Mager wrapped-up the year with a bow Monday, presenting the highlights of a 2015 that began with fireworks and ended with them at Christmas in the City.

“It was such an amazing year, I can only see it getting better in the 100 years to come.”

For Pastor Marty McDonald of The City Church, what they have left to the future is deeply personal. As a boy, his father promised to never leave him a penny before following through, dying when McDonald was barely a teenager. He lost more family members, and became homeless before finding a place in his faith.

McDonald told the council he was struck with a biblical passage that said “a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” He believes the centennial accomplished a legacy for them.,

“What has happened in the city in the last year is bigger than what I expected,” McDonald said, recounting ever-growing fundraising goals that ended up more than $100,000 above initial hopes. “It’s amazing to see what took place, but in the middle of that, I thought about ‘where are we, what is taking place?’”

“We demonstrated a heart of the city that goes beyond what anyone could imagine,” he added later.

City Council President Eugene Jankowski was impressed by the physical accomplishments of 2015, like the sundial installation set to be completed this spring in front of city hall. But he was also inspired by the relationships the year-long campaign made.

“I think that everyone is so detached (with technology and culture), we got away from physical, face-to-face communication,” Jankowski said. “This brought that back. Friendships were made. That’s huge for the city moving forward. We’re better citizens and neighbors.”

The City Council honored the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership building trades students who built a seven-foot-tall centennial cake and Paul Battaglia, the public face and behind-the-scenes muscle for the celebration.

Battaglia echoed the words he offered at the dedication of a time capsule he reminded would be opened by the great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren of those at the council meeting. They may be amused at the technology we had as the city turned 100 and how we lived. He hopes they understand the pride they had in 2015 and feel the same way in 2115.