When I drew up a list of monthly articles for the year this past January, the November article topic I wanted to write about was the Chamber’s role through the years on commemorative events, such as the 175th Celebration of our founding as a community. I figured that most of the 175th events would have been held and part of history. Not so fast thanks to a pandemic.
Since 1870 New Braunfels citizens have recognized and grandly celebrated 25-year anniversaries of its founding. With the Chamber forming locally in 1919, I am confident that the 1920 celebration had a lot of Chamber hands involved. By 1945, our records show that we were the designated officially-sanctioned entity to sponsor and carry out the year-long events. Note that the 1945 Centennial was postponed until 1946 to allow our soldiers to be home to enjoy the anniversary first-hand.
When I was placed in charge of staffing the 1995 Sesquicentennial, I was fortunate to have many records in files to provide a roadmap of action items. Even down to the committees, one can easily see the similarities with the 1946, 1970 and 1995 anniversaries regarding events held. It is important to note that the planning for these year-long anniversaries begin a few years before, allowing time to fundraise and plan.
New Braunfelsers are generous people, and all these anniversaries have been privately funded — even the 175th with a budget approaching $1 million. Compare that to the recent 300th in San Antonio with a $200+ million budget, much of which was funded by local government. Funds raised locally through the years have provided citizens with lasting improvements in such areas as Landa Park, the Civic Convention Center, and now our highway gateway monuments on I-35.
Along with every 25-year anniversaries, there have been others including the nation’s 200th in 1976 and the Texas Sesquicentennial in 1986 (150 years from Texas Independence Day in 1836). Yes, it was the Chamber of Commerce that provided the organization, fundraising, volunteers, and staffing to make those happen.
Having staffed a 25 year milestone anniversary for New Braunfels (1990-1995), I can tell you it is a labor of love. You have to continue to do your job while finding the time to provide for the needs of the committees planning for all the events. In 2016-17 when we began thinking about the coming 175th in 2020, I turned to our Chamber’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. Community anniversaries are no longer just for citizens, but visitors love them as well. They are great ways to promote the brand of a city, and in the era of quality of life being such an important factor in company decisions where to site operations, these events help us in our recruitment efforts to provide quality jobs.
We look forward to completing the 175th anniversary events in 2021. The wait will be worth it!