Berlin Love Day Date Approved

Berlin Love Day Date Approved
Berlin Police Officer Gary Bratten is pictured in a casual pickup game with Love Day attendees last year. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

BERLIN – Despite concerns from staff, the Berlin Town Council approved plans for a late September event at Henry Park.

The council on Monday approved a request from a local nonprofit to host the second annual Love Day at Henry Park on Sept. 25. Staff expressed concern about the fact that the event had been proposed at the last minute and occurred on the same weekend as the Berlin Fiddlers Convention.

“It would be preferable on a number of levels if we could move this a few weeks to a different date,” said Town Administrator Mary Bohlen.

Representatives of We Heart Berlin, a nonprofit devoted to expanding recreational opportunities in Berlin, approached the council this week seeking approval to host Love Day on Sept. 25. We Heart Berlin’s Mary Hedlesky and Adrian Bowen told the council the group really would need little town support to host the event, which last year included music, basketball and food.

“It’s a day for the community to come out,” Bowen said. “The youth, they are the main focus.”

Bohlen told the council town staff was worried the event was set for the final day of the Fiddlers Convention. Both events could need public works and police support, she said. She also pointed out that organizations were supposed to seek approval for events 60 days before they occurred.

“It’s less than two weeks and staff is now being asked to make additional accommodations for an event we were told would not be happening this year,” Bohlen said.

Bowen said he’d held a basketball tournament at Henry Park Memorial Day weekend and hadn’t needed town services.

Councilman Dean Burrell suggested the event be held a different weekend. Mayor Zack Tyndall said Love Day had drawn a huge crowd last year. He said applying for an event 60 days in advance would have given town staff the time to plan for it.

“It’s not an arbitrary number,” he said. “It’s designed so we can get staff in play for an event.”

Councilwoman Shaneka Nichols asked if We Heart Berlin members could handle clean up of the event, as Bowen’s group had when the basketball tournament was held.

“We can make it happen,” he said.

Tyndall, who said We Heart Berlin had been asked to get in touch with town staff regarding the event multiple times, noted public works had handled clean up of the recent Small Town Throwdown.

“You couldn’t tell we had an event,” he said. “Our public works crews and other staff do an amazing job. At the end of the day, if something gets missed they’re going to call one of us.”

The council voted 4-1, with Burrell opposed, to approve the event.

Councilmembers encouraged We Heart Berlin to plan the 2023 Love Day event in advance so it could be included on the town’s annual calendar of events.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.