We considered several times canceling Manhattan Day this year.
We decided, instead, that holding it might make more sense than ever.
Manhattan Day, as you might know, is Saturday. It’s the annual celebration The Mercury invented 19 years ago to mark the time of year when two groups of settlers got together to form what is now Manhattan. We created it and have continued to support and promote it.
The community has observed that anniversary by holding neighborhood gatherings. The idea is simple: To get together with your neighbors, thereby strengthening the bonds that make a community what it is. Dillons and HyVee (and Ray’s Apple Market before that) have pitched in by providing free buns and hot dogs. The city government has provided logistical support and has waived fees for the permits required to block off streets. (Special tip of the cap to Susan Shortsleeves, Bernie Hayen and Phil Anderson, who have helped for several years in a variety of ways.)
The rising level at Tuttle Creek Lake and the weather forecast made us think seriously about calling it off for 2019. If people in Northview were going to have floodwaters pouring into their homes, it seemed folly to encourage everyone else to grill burgers.
But city officials have encouraged us to proceed, and, the more we thought about it, the more appropriate it seemed. Mostly, that’s because our strength as a community and the way we will respond to whatever comes our way will depend on our connections with each other. Taking a couple hours to visit with your neighbors — more than just the perfunctory wave as you pull out of the driveway — will connect you to the entire community in ways you might not realize. Perhaps we’ll come up with ways to help each other. At least, we’ll be reminded of our connections and our common interests.
The other thing is merely symbolic, but it’s real: Manhattan exists because of the union of those groups of settlers. Guess why those settlers were here, in this valley? Because Manhattan is where the Blue runs into the Kansas, supplying water and navigable rivers for commerce. When heavy rains hit, the river junction floods, and that’s just the way it is. We built a dam and a levee after 100 years of intermittent flooding, and that has helped us prevent far worse damage. That has allowed us to create the kind of community we have.
So let’s celebrate all that, even as we prepare for trouble. Let’s remember our neighbors who might need our help. And let’s remember that the strength of this community is ultimately all about the connections we have with each other.