By Michael Salerno
For Hometown News
PORT ORANGE - City Council members took the first step in planning a celebration marking the city's 100 anniversary.
The council recently approved a logo that would appear on the marketing materials for the city's centennial celebration on March 17, marking 100 years since Port Orange was incorporated as a city in 1913.
The logo - one of three selected by the parks and recreation department for consideration - depicts a former historical landmark known as the Port Orange Hotel. City spokesman and local historian Kent Donahue said the landmark, first built in 1872, was a two-story house that once overlooked the Halifax River and was the main hotel for tourists visiting Port Orange in its early days.
The building where the hotel stood is no longer there; it was demolished back in 1996 after it was deemed uninhabitable.
Susan Lovallo, parks and recreation director, said she's been working with a committee to determine the types of events that would be a part of the centennial celebration. While the specifics are still being worked out, she did say the main event would take place on March 17 at Riverwalk, where the city plans to develop a public park facing the Halifax River.
"We are going to be holding an event down at the Riverwalk area," Ms. Lovallo said. "We're going to have some bands and some food and exhibits and some reenactment-type stuff."
The centennial would be a yearlong celebration, not limited to the March 17 event, she said. Plans call for several events throughout the year, including historical presentations, movies, concerts, art shows, historical exhibits at City Hall and the library, and eco and kayak tours of Spruce Creek.
Ms. Lovallo said her department also plans to compile a cookbook featuring family recipes submitted by citizens, and the Port Orange Camera Club will choose historic photographs of the city that would be printed on postcards commemorating the centennial. She also mentioned the idea of a business spotlight that would highlight local businesses that have been a part of the community for 30 years or longer.
"Of course, we're open to any suggestions (for other events) from the council and the citizens," she said.
Although city leaders approved of the idea of holding the centennial festivities at Riverwalk, they decided against moving the Fourth of July fireworks to the site, citing concerns over logistical changes to the operation and increased costs from those changes.
"I think the atmosphere is better on the river, (but) I think we've got a lot of logistics problems," Councilman Don Burnette said. "I don't think we have the infrastructure now and everything we would have to do on a temporary basis would be too high a cost."
According to a memo from Ms. Lovallo, it costs $26,200 to put on the fireworks show at City Center on July 4. Moving it to Riverwalk, which would require overtime staffing for parks and public safety employees and additional expenses including portable toilets, raises the cost to $46,900. Ms. Lovallo recommended keeping the event at City Center "until such a time when the infrastructure is established and look at hosting and or moving some existing events of a smaller more manageable size to the river to build interest and evaluate logistics during use."
Council members said the July 4 fireworks display was held along the river until about 20 years ago when it was moved to City Center. Although they felt now was not the right time to hold the July 4 festivities at Riverwalk, they would like to see it there in the near future.