It’s almost time to party like it’s 1872. Wilmette begins work on year-long 150th celebration
The Village of Wilmette’s 150th birthday will be officially celebrated Sept. 19, 2022.
Party planning can take a long time, especially when you’re turning 150.
That is the case in Wilmette, where the village’s Sesquicentennial Planning Committee is hard at work planning the town’s 150th anniversary, officially set for Sept. 19, 2022.
Wilmette was founded in 1872 by early settlers Archange and Antoine Ouilmette, according to Village records. TA railroad stop, small businesses and residential areas were among the earliest developments. These additions enabled growth, and Wilmette become an established community.
The Village’s Sesquicentennial Planning Committee, made up of 13 members, sought ideas and updates from residents at a recent virtual meeting held on April 13.
Resident Anthony Chambers suggested placing QR codes around historic places throughout Wilmette that allow residents to scan the barcode with their smartphone and receive an old photo of the place they are standing.
The committee and other residents expressed how greatly this idea could honor the village’s history.
“This is one of the many creative ideas that have been suggested to the committee, and I hope we’ll be able to incorporate it into the celebration,” said John Jacoby, a former Village president and co-chairman of the Wilmette Sesquicentennial Planning Committee.
Jacoby and the rest of the committee listened to other ideas residents brought up at the April meeting.
Wilmette’s Beth Feely suggested having people who could not be at the anniversary record themselves to wish Wilmette a happy birthday.
Another resident, Ellen Price, recommended honoring 150 residents who have contributed to the community.
“We want this to be a widely participated year-long celebration that people support and that brings out all people within the community, unifies the community and involves not only education, but also excitement, fun, and good community spirit,” Jacoby said.
The committee also discussed developing media to get the word out about the anniversary. This could consist of a website that will have information about events and how to register for the celebration. There will also be a hashtag used on Wilmette’s current social media pages specifically for the anniversary.
Jacoby said organizers are reaching out to village businesses, organizations and other entities to see how they want to participate in the celebration, as well.
“We’re going to let some of these organizations have their events, but work them into our calendar, so that we’ll have a unified sesquicentennial celebration calendar,” Jacoby said.
One of the themes Jacoby wants to include is restaurant-oriented activities.
“We are going to organize them to have events throughout the year celebrating, for example, international cuisine,” Jacoby said. “This would be one idea or a barbecue festival.”
Additionally, officials hope to honor all of the 14 businesses in Wilmette that have been in operation since before the Great Depression, which began in 1929.
The oldest business is Millen Hardware, 1219 Wilmette Ave., which was established in 1908 by John Millen on Green Bay Road. It was moved to Wilmette Avenue in 1923.
Another is Chalet Nursery, 3132 Lake Ave. It was founded as a landscaping business by Lawrence Thalmann Sr. in the 1920s.
“These businesses deserve to be honored for their longevity,” Jacoby said.
And even though the celebration is more than a year away, organizers plan to be careful with any lingering public health issues.
“We’ll abide by whatever regulations are in place at the time and of course, we want it to be as safe and fun for everybody as possible,” said Lisa Roberts, the assistant director of community development in Wilmette.
That should include something for everyone.
“The idea is that we are going to have a variety of activities with a broad interest and hopefully, there will be at least one thing that everybody can find that they are interested in attending,” Roberts said.
The committee met again on April 28 with a focus on sorting through residents’ suggestions and starting a schedule of activities and events, as well as ideas for fundraising.
For more information or to view upcoming meeting agendas, click here. Have an idea? Email Celebrate150@wilmette.com.
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Andrew is a senior majoring in communication studies at Dominican University. He is a student journalist at Dominican and a contributing writer for the Record North Shore. At Dominican, Andrew has been reporting and covering online teaching and learning.