To the Editor:

Let us all have a moment of silence for Trumbull Day. Well, maybe not yet, but it is on life support. Recently, the Trumbull Town Council voted to disband the Trumbull Day Commission. Once again, it came down to an almost entirely party line vote. Such a thing is hardly news in Trumbull, but it was surprising to see council Republicans so eager to expand the role of government to run what was historically a community-driven event. Even so, there were a few that showed concern about not losing the spirit of community that made Trumbull Days in the past such a success, and it is that concern that keeps the patient alive for now.

Why does this matter? Isn’t this just about hosting a carnival for kids to ride kiddie rides and eat cotton candy? For some, perhaps, but for others that know our history and what the event once was to Trumbull, it can and should be much more. A community-driven event gives civic groups the chance to expand their service to the community and individuals a chance to volunteer not just to staff the event, but also to help plan it to ensure that its success provides value beyond just covering its costs. Now taxpayers have to pay for an event run entirely by town employees, what lasting benefit does this event bring to the community?

To their credit, the town council got it about half right. It is reasonable to have the Parks & Recreation department handle logistics for the event such as hiring vendors and coordinating with our police and fire departments. Without community involvement in the planning process, however, it is impossible to ensure that the event fully serves the community’s needs. It removes the community’s stake in the event and reduces the event to just another carnival. If that happens, we lose an opportunity to give the event meaning and provide lasting value to our citizens. If that happens, do not call it Trumbull Day for while the operation might have been a success, the patient has died.

Let us not turn off life support just yet, however. There is still hope for recovery. All that is needed is to create an advisory committee working under the authority and direction of the Parks & Recreation director. With his experience, Mr. McCarthy is more than qualified to handle the logistics of such an event, but neither he nor his staff should be expected to do the important work of mobilizing the community, bringing the needs of the community forward, and ensuring that those needs are met with a worthwhile community event. We have an opportunity to use this event to serve the community beyond just riding rides and eating cotton candy. We also have an opportunity to show that we can work across party lines to meet the concerns of our citizens. Let us do both.
Kevin Shively