The Kutztown Community Partnership will host a Whole Town Toast on Friday, March 27, at 6 p.m.
The event opens with church bells ringing at 6 p.m. to signal the town to come out on their front porch for a town toast. The Mayor will broadcast a message thanking the community and ask everyone to raise their glass in a town toast. Kutztown Fire Company fire trucks will drive through town with sirens "a blazing."
“I think the message is .... You are not alone, we are in this together,” said Sandy Green, Community Liaison, KCP. “To keep their spirits up, people around the world are sharing moments of joy and song from their balconies, porches or stoop. We want our community to do the same. It is OK to go outside! Take this time to raise your glass to your neighbors, friends, family and community from afar and to toast those people on the frontlines doing everything possible to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
“We’re a very social and connected community and this is a way to celebrate us and give thanks to everyone who is still working to meet the needs of the community,” said Kutztown Mayor Jim Schlegel.
The Mayor hopes the Whole Town Toast sends a message of optimism.
“We’re still here, we can still connect without being able to shake hands or give a hug,” said Schlegel. “For all the medical workers, store clerks, borough employees and others who are still working, I want them to know just how thankful we are.”
There is hope that this event will unite the community and raise spirits.
“Just seeing our neighbors are ok, and being given a way to say thanks in unison, should feel uplifting,” said Schlegel.
The Mayor’s message will be broadcast from the church steeples on the sound systems of St. Paul’s UCC and St. John’s Lutheran, plus it will be on the fire truck loud speakers as it travels around Kutztown.
Derek Mace, Kutztown Borough Councilman and Kutztown University professor, reached out to KCP with the idea. Mace said that his idea stemmed from an article shared by his mother-in-law Debby Sailsbery, a Kutztown resident. The article was about her old neighborhood in Pittsburgh where hundreds came out on their porches for a town toast.
“We’ve all been hearing heartfelt things from towns all over the world of neighbors reaching out across the street and next door singing songs and toasting each other,” said Mace.
“We’re all reminding each other that we’re in it together," continued Mace. "Kutztown is a welcoming community with a desire to express that we’re still Whole. That’s what this is about. I know students and faculty and young and old residents who are ready to toast and celebrate the work we’re all doing. This is a reminder that we’re all essential to a whole Kutztown.”
Kutztown University President Kenneth Hawkinson will also participate with a pre-recorded toast from his front porch. KCP will share the recording via social media and online.
The tentative schedule will be as follows:
6 p.m. - church bells ring for 1 minute. This is the signal for everyone to come out on their porch, stoop or balcony with their favorite drink.
6:01 p.m. - Mayor Jim Schlegel will broadcast a pre-recorded message of thanks and cheer.
After the toast, the firetruck will go through town with their sirens blasting to toast the town.
“I like that the church bells are ringing. It reminds me of when we started Kutztown’s bicentennial celebration with the ringing of the bells,” said Kutztown resident Craig Koller, a member of the Board of Directors for the Kutztown Area Historical Society. “The bicentennial brought out the best in the people of Kutztown and ignited a great spirit of community. Let’s hope the toast of the town does the same. We’re all in this together.”
KCP is also sharing how the community can support local businesses while practicing social distancing.
“It is important to support Kutztown’s downtown businesses,” said Green. “KCP created Distance Dining, a list of restaurants that are offering services during this difficult time.”
There is a link on the KCP website (http://kutztownpartnership.org/) and a designated button on the Kutztown, PA Mobile App. for information.
“We also want to remember our retail businesses. Many are doing online business, virtual shopping, curbside pickup and gift cards for purchase. Keep our downtown businesses in mind for your next purchase,” said Green.
Green encourages everyone to participate on Friday evening at 6 p.m.
KCP asks people to hashtag #The Whole Town Toast and share their photos and/or videos on Facebook.
“Be sure to use the hashtag #The WholeTownToast to share your pictures of toasting together. Stay safe, stay healthy. Remember, as Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of Health says, 'hand washing should be done for 20 seconds, the time it takes to sing 'Happy Birthday' twice,'" said Green.
The event has been posted on Facebook. Visit the Kutztown Community Partnership Facebook page for updates.