Demisemiseptcentennial. The word tripped off the tongue like white frosting from a layer cake. Which, of course, it was... at the City of Racine's 175th anniversary party hosted by Rep. Cory Mason at the Racine Public Library Thursday night.
Mason spent a few minutes in front of easels holding panels touting some of the city's accomplishments -- as submitted to him by residents -- before cutting into a large Danish layer cake from O&H Bakery. And, yes, the cake was large enough for demisemiseptcentennial to fit onto the cake's sweet frosting, stretching from one side to another.
Library's Becky Spika with Legislative resolution commending Racine's 175thIf there was any disappointment, it was only this: it was too dark for Mason to look out the Library's second-floor windows and see the mouth of the Root River where Gilbert Knapp first landed and founded the city in 1834. "The first 50 years of Racine's history are all about the river," Mason said, before listing some of our later points of pride: the first city in Wisconsin to graduate a high school class, our underground railroad stop, our tradition of industry ("The small engine capital of the world."), and a welcome diversity with too many ethnic festivals to count "that has enriched our community."
Of course, some will say "that was then; what about now?" So I asked Mason what he'd like to see by the city's next big anniversary, our bicentennial 25 years from now, in 2034. He didn't hesitate:
"Every generation has been able to do a little bit better than those that came before. That's the central problem we face today. The transitional challenges are there... in education, in employment. This has been a good community for opportunity in the past; there's no reason it can't be that for the next 200 years."
I put the same question to some young folks, starting with two Park High School government students who were interviewing Mason (while he held his adorable daughter, 11-month-old Eleanor Roosevelt Mason) before his party began . They didn't hesitate either: "Less crime and violence, and more jobs," said Tynisha Person, 16. "And better maintenance for the schools."
"More parks and nice areas to gather. And cleaner streets," said Morgan Dawson, also 16.
Shirleeta Miles, 23, who has lived here all her life, said the city is "pretty good" but could provide "more help for people who don't have much."
And then it was time for cake. Mason, good Democrat that he is, cut generous portions for each of the 60+ persons who came for a slice. And, unlike the world at large, there was enough for everyone.