The year was 1946: Marilyn Monroe dyes her hair blonde, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is released and Elvis celebrates his 11th birthday.
The year was 1946 and in a small community known as Jordan, Dr. Whitley and many locales had an idea - “an ice skating rink located in the Canal Park”.
A means for funding the rink was conceived –a “donate your ‘junk’ for an auction-type sale” along with a concession stand. The event was held at the corner of Main and Mechanic. The Jordan Community Council was formed simultaneously as the governing body to oversee and administer the event funds. The Town was on its’ way to building that skating rink.
Then, tragedy struck. A young girl drowned in a reservoir on Brutus Rd. From that tragedy, emerged a community tradition that has spanned for 70 years.
Dr. Whitley and the founding Fathers of the Community Council declared that a community pool, where swimming lessons could be had for all the children of Jordanand surrounding communities, was more important than a skating rink. The rink was never built, but the Jordan Pool was, and it still remains today, 70 years after that first community fund-raising event.
The “who” and “what” of the Fall Festival may have changed over the years, but the “why” remains the same. The Fall Festival is the sole contributor to the funding of the Community Council. The current goal of the Council is to achieve a minimum of $50,000 profit each year so that it can support the organizations that have come to rely on the funds in order to survive. In the 70 year Festival history, it is estimated that goal was achieved at least 80% of the years – and for that, we are thankful. Council Members are proud to say they currently have in reserves enough to support its’ current benefactors for a full year should disaster strike the Festival.
Currently there is a gap in Festival volunteers that seem to focus on the 25 to 40 year age group. Perhaps because ”senior natives’ have not shared success stories of the Festival and/or relocated people to our area lack awareness. My goal of this writing is to raise that awareness and increase volunteers.
While the original focus of a skating rink was never achieved – the greater accomplishment of the pool was. For the past 70 years, families have been able to enjoy the pool, bond with neighbors, and enjoy some R&R. In addition, many young adults were able to obtain their lifeguard credentials at the Pool. While still a large focus for the Council, today there are many who benefit from the monies raised.
The JE Food Bank – the Historical Society – the Jordan Library – the Jordan-Elbridge Transport (JET) van for seniors/disabled – improvements to the Seymour Loft park (including a Defibulator!) – sponsorship of summer acting groups - sponsorship of boy/girl scouting – JE Varsity scholarship funding … just to name a few.
The Community Council accepts requests from any non-profit group. A few years back a group of girls from one of our school sports teams had an opportunity to compete out of state. They did their best to raise the money for the trip on their own, but fell short. They made application to the Council for funding, which was approved, allowing them to compete resulting in more than 50% obtaining college scholarships! What would have happened to the dreams of those girls if it wasn’t for the generosity of the community? What would happen to all those community-sponsored groups who rely on the Council if the Festival was no more?
Hopefully we will never know the answer to that question. The Festival is made up of over 400 volunteers. The volunteer population is aging. The current concern is the lack of participation from the “next generation”.
Chances are you or someone you know has taken advantage of one of the Festival-sponsored community services, whether or not you, or they, were aware of the source(s) of funding. Maybe you know someone who attended an event in the Community Room at the Jordan Library – or you know someone who rode the JET. Perhaps you attended a ball game at Seymour Loft Park or know someone who has played on the fields. Without the Festival, many shudder to think of what would happen to these groups and what that would mean to the kids and families that benefit from them.
We need everyone’s help. Three to four hours of one day – out of one weekend – just once a year. The rate of return on your investment of time is truly astounding. The best way to keep the dream.. the memory of that little girl.. the spirit of this community alive …. is to volunteer.
Written and provided by: Elizabeth A. Foster - Volunteer