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Events Announced for Covington's 200th Birthday Celebration

Cov200, the committee charged with planning Covington’s Bicentennial celebration, hosted a town hall meeting Friday morning at City Hall with community leaders, city officials, and the broader public to outline in broad strokes what the Covington, Northern Kentucky, and Greater Cincinnati communities can all look forward to over the next two years.
 
“Today is about the future,” said Normand Desmarais, Bicentennial Committee Chair. “There are pockets of brilliance all over Covington. We want the Bicentennial to be about exposing that brilliance.”
 
Desmarais, along with the committee’s Vice Chair Amanda Greenwell, spoke for approximately an hour Friday morning, providing sneak-peeks of what will be an 18-month series of events and initiatives, all in celebration of Covington’s 200th birthday.
 
Desmarais spent the first half of the meeting presenting Cov200’s vision and mission statement, celebrating Covington’s history, culture, and economy as a way of putting Covington on the map.
 
In addition to exposing the world to those "pockets of brilliance" that checker Covington, Desmarais and his team are strategizing various fundraising, legacy projects, and partnerships with local businesses in order to generate demand, increase civic pride, and engage “Covington stakeholders.”
 
Emphasizing Cov200’s mission to be inclusive and involve all 19 Covington neighborhoods, Desmarais explained, “There are 40,000 people in this city. We want every social demographic and business to be involved.”
 
Vice Chair Amanda Greenwell detailed some of the outreach projects already in the works. Among other initiatives, Greenwell announced a forthcoming book project, what she called the “first complete history of Covington,” slated for publication in time for the 2014 holiday season. A documentary film, produced in time for the official birthday celebration next February, as well as an upcoming exhibit at the Behringer-Crawford Museum, K-16 educational outreach programs, mass service projects, a walking tour series, and planned engagement with over 200 existing regional events were also announced.
 
Greenwell tipped her hat to Covington-based marketing and media firms BLDG, Scooter Media, Tier 1, UpTech, Spotted Yeti, and the Awesome Collective, who have partnered with Cov200 in brainstorming and planning.
 
Among the specific events and projects Greenwell was able to spotlight were:
 
- May 22, 2014, Kickoff Fundraiser Event at Drees Pavilion: According to Greenwell, the City of Covington and Cov200 will both unveil their new brand designs, and the event will also feature a documentary teaser.
 
- November 2014, Book Launch Party at Behringer-Crawford.
 
- February 7-8, 2015, two-day Covington Birthday Bash at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center.
 
- July 14, 2015, MLB All-Star Game: With over 27 million people viewing last year’s game, Desmarais underlined this as a huge opportunity for the Bicentennial. “We want them to pan over to Covington and wish us a happy birthday,” he said, explaining that they’ve begun building the relationships necessary to develop those partnerships. 
 
- “Impact Covington”: This will be a series of mass service days throughout Covington, as part of Cov200’s efforts to give back to the city. Greenwell cited GO Cincinnati as a potential model for planning these service projects, and also hinted at implementing a service rewards program, as incentive for involving as many city residents as possible.
 
- Community Block Party, involving all neighborhoods of Covington: While specific details haven’t been announced, Greenwell pointed to somewhere along I-71/75, perhaps near the former Jillian’s location, as a desirable spot. “Can you imagine people driving up from somewhere like Florida, driving by and seeing this gigantic block party off the highway?” she said.
 
- Legacy events: These will be educational in focus, calling on leaders from Children, Inc., Covington Independent Schools, and Gateway Community and Technical College to engage students grades K-16 as part of the Bicentennial’s tribute to Covington history.
 
Beyond these events, Greenwell indicated that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Cov200 are open to suggestions from community members on other events, she explained, while also emphasizing Cov200’s commitment to supporting what she called “personal celebrations,” independently organized events with which Cov200 could partner. “Tell us about it and we’ll help promote what you’re doing,” she said.
 
Greenwell also described plans for a “toolkit” with branded merchandise and other items that business owners or event organizers can request, in order to facilitate partnership with Cov200.
 
“We want to get people outside and into their communities,” Desmarais added.
 
On the horizon for Cov200 is the launch of their new website, most likely to align with the unveiling of Cov200’s new brand design. They will also formalize their fundraising procedures, define their service and public art projects, engage more local businesses, enlist a team of Ambassadors, and continue event planning and outreach.
 
Ultimately, Cov200 hopes the Bicentennial celebration will put Covington on the country’s radar. “We want to get 100 million eyeballs on Covington, and we’re going to do it,” Desmarais said.
 
Before the meeting adjourned, Mayor Sherry Carran added, “With the young energy that we have involved (in the Bicentennial), this is going to be fun. I hope you can feel that in the room today.”
 
If you’d like to get involved with Cov200 and the Bicentennial planning committees, you can visit their website for more information.
 
Written by Pat LaFleur, RCN contributor
 
Photo: Amanda Greenwell speaks at Friday's Cov200 Town Hall/RCN