Brook Park Mayor Tom Coyne Makes Decision to Scale Back Annual Home Days Event
A tradition for over a half-century, the Brook Park Home Days, or "Community Days" as it was called in more recent years, will be a shell of its former self this summer. Mayor Tom Coyne has made the difficult decision to scale back the annual summer event in light of the economic conditions and financial plight of the city, but due to the fondness that residents have for the event, it won't be done away with completely.
Home Days will remain a multi-day event spanning Friday through Sunday. The fireworks display will also remain, and Mayor Coyne insists that it will be better than ever, but the carnival-like atmosphere with rides and food vendors will be nowhere in sight.
Instead, the 2014 Brook Park Home Days will be a more community-focused event. There will still be a parade and sports events up at Kennedy Field, and the Miss Brook Park pageant will be held, but residents will be encouraged to take the "party" back to their own streets and backyards in the form of barbecues. Those wanting to eat up at the Home Days festivities are encouraged to bring their own food and make a picnic of it.
Rumor of Mayor Coyne's decision to scale back Home Days this year began circulating on social media in mid-March, and has received mixed reaction from current and former Brook Park residents so far. Some lament the Mayor's decision, while others point out that with the city in the financial shape it is, it's really not fiscally responsible to be throwing a big party.
Brook Park resident Bob Bragg shared his thoughts with us on the scaling back of Home Days, stating:
"Now that is a horrible idea! That's a tradition around here. It brings families from all over to one neutral location and it benefits all local businesses."
On the "You Know You're From Brook Park If..." page on Facebook, Matt Mahon said:
"It should have been axed a long time ago. When you don't have money to fix your house, you don't throw a party. This should have been cut when they knew the budget was over. I'm sure in police overtime and labor from the city workers alone it was a budget killer."
Sue Zambo was a little more blunt in her assessment, stating:
"Home days has been horrible for years...like a Disneyland ghetto...the only good part is the fireworks."
The overwhelming theme of the negative responses has been that this is the way things have always been, and how dare the Mayor take it away. Those in favor of the Home Days overhaul are hopeful that it will keep some of the troublemakers out of the city and save the city money to spend on more pressing matters, like fixing the streets.
Carl Burgio, Brook Park councilman-at-large, thinks that the Mayor's plan might not be so bad and could be a change for the better. In a response for a request to comment on the situation, Burgio said:
"I believe that the proposed changes the mayor is planning can be a nice change. We will still have the best parade with kids lining the streets awaiting candy. The best fireworks display to enjoy, And I like idea of a more home town, family-friendly home day. I've often heard our residents say they don't attend because of large and sometimes unruly crowds. So I say let's give the mayor a chance to see how the community responds. I'd like to see more of our neighbors enjoying our facilities in a more relaxed wholesome family environment."
Fellow councilman Jimmy Mencini, who represents Ward 2, also weighed in, and said that he thinks that Home Days was due for a change, adding:
"It has been thirty years of the same format. Change was needed. I think we can all agree on this."
Many residents have also expressed frustration that the city puts on a carnival each year that attracts unsavory types from outside of the community, making the very residents the event is supposed to be for feel unwelcome and unwilling to attend. For them, the change is a welcome one and puts the focus back on the people who are actually living in Brook Park.
While Brook Park is facing some trying times economically, there were actually some other issues at play here that guided Mayor Coyne's decision. The Brook Park library is currently undergoing major renovations, which would cut into some of the area where the event is usually held. The Brook Park Recreation Center's parking lot is also unable to host vendors and rides. Coyne says that the lot was initially set up with electrical wiring and water lines so that it could host such events as Home Days, but these were removed last year when the parking lot was redone and would cost over $200,000 to reinstall.
For those unhappy with the decision, there is no lack of summer carnivals in the area. Neighboring city Middleburg Heights puts on quite an event of their own, Summer in the City, and there's always the Cuyahoga County Fair just a couple miles away.