BERLIN — During a larger discussion this week on the timing of special events in the town, it came to light Berlin’s annual Memorial Day celebration at the monument along Main Street is in danger of going away due largely to the health issues of the event’s primary organizer and largest supporter.
At Monday’s Mayor and Council meeting, Police Chief Arnold Downing discussed with Berlin’s elected officials the need for more advance notice with special events. Downing used a new three-day special event at remodeled Henry Park on Memorial Day weekend as an example.
“I’d like to ask the Mayor and Council to consider a 45-day notice for special events,” he said. “The month of May is event-laden and we have four more to go this month and we’re almost halfway through. Short notice, especially with a new event, creates problems.”
Downing said the police department often has to juggle manpower and hours to ensure the town’s many special events are safely covered. He said the town’s aggressive special events calendar puts many other departments in the same situation.
“A two-week window is not always enough time to plan,” he said. “I’m not only speaking for our benefit, but all of the other departments, especially with first-time events.”
Out of that discussion was borne a concern about the traditional Memorial Day ceremony at the monument on the corner of Main and West Streets. For years, Berlin long-time resident Sonny Adkins has organized the event, but health issues have kept him from planning it for the most part this year. Downing said the town is looking for somebody to step up and fill the void.
“The Memorial Day event needs a leader,” he said. “Several people including myself have been asked to take it over and have had to turn it down for a variety of reasons. We really just need somebody to step up and sign the paperwork. I’ll fill it out for them.”
Mayor Gee Williams said Adkins had volunteered to plan and organize the Memorial Day ceremony for years and called on the town’s spirit of volunteerism to maintain the treasured event.
“Volunteers aren’t paid, but they are some of the most valuable people in this town,” he said. “This is a classic example of that. Mr. Adkins has done a wonderful job with this for so long and now we need some help with it. … This is an event I feel really close to and I’ll do whatever I can to keep it going without a break,” he said. “We just need somebody to step up to the plate.”