By Deb Everts

April 13 was to be a joyous celebration in observance of the Town of Ellicottville’s 200th birthday, but the party has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, organizer Dawn Westfall said people can be on the lookout for other potential ways to celebrate.

Westfall said the bicentennial planning committee met April 2 via Zoom video conferencing and it went well. She said they’re trying to be creative to find another way to celebrate the town’s birthday.

They plan to put the birthday banner up about April 9 to mark the possible celebrations to come. A green and yellow theme has been chosen, so people may notice a lot of balloons and flowers in those colors on display in the village, courtesy of the Alley Katz volunteer gardening group. Renowned, local artist Barbara Fox has designed a logo to be used specifically for the town’s bicentennial.

“We’ll have some green and yellow balloons around, then we plan to have video footage taken that will be added to the next Zoom session,” she said. “We think we’ll be able to share it on the chamber’s (Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce) webpage, as well as Holiday Valley’s webpage.”

A big part of the birthday party was to include the presentation of Pioneer Certificates to people who applied to honor their Ellicottville ancestors. Westfall said the applicants will receive their certificates via the United States Postal Service in the coming weeks.

Since the Town Birthday Party is not possible due to the coronavirus outbreak, Westfall is asking Pioneer applicants to share their stories and/or photos of their ancestors in the local newspapers. The stories will feature some of Ellicottville’s pioneers who lived in the town back in the 1800s and early 1900s. 

“We’re just trying to ‘shoot from the hip’ and this idea of publishing pioneer articles is really good,” she said. “We want to commemorate the ancestors of the Pioneer applicants. If any applicants are interested in having their ancestor featured, I would like to hear from them.”

The first bicentennial event of the year kicked off March 14-15 at Holiday Valley during Winter Carnival weekend, with people maintaining the 6-foot distancing recommendation. Sadly, most activities including the popular Costume Parade on the slopes and the Mardi Gras parade in the village had to be canceled.

The bicentennial committee presented a room full of Heritage Town Photos and Ski Heritage Photos, historical pieces and storyboards from the museum, and a short video of the museum at the main lodge. Visitors had the opportunity to watch a video of Edna Northrup, Ellicottville’s well-known adventurer, skier and author of “For the Love of Skiing” talk about her memories of the early days of skiing in Ellicottville.

Westfall said she is not saying no, yet, to Old Home Weekend set for July 17-19. The event is planned to coincide with Ellicottville Central School’s annual Alumni Weekend. 

A street dance is still in the works for Friday night downtown, after the Stroll the Streets event. Westfall said the dance will coordinate with the 1800s-themed Stroll that is planned this year, so people are encouraged to wear period costumes.

A parade is being planned for Saturday morning in the village. Westfall said it will start near the Town Center at 10 a.m. She said St. Paul’s is going to sponsor a carnival and have activities for kids that day. The committee is also thinking about having a family-oriented activity on Sunday to end the weekend.

Another Saturday event is Mark Dunkelman’s 154th Civil War Reunion at the Town Center, located at 28 Parkside Drive, from 1 to 4 p.m. 

Westfall said a barbecue or some other food event that weekend is still in the works. She said the committee is discussing options because people are always looking for food at events.

“The committee is still making plans for when life gets back to normal,” she said. “Hopefully, the timing will coincide with what we originally scheduled or we may have to push the event out to a later date.” 

For updated information, questions or to volunteer, contact Westfall at 699-6201 or daylight398@gmail.com.