By Autumn Sundown
During 2019, Oak Harbor’s iconic and beloved Holland Happening Festival celebrated its 50th year. This event is firmly rooted in cherished childhood memories for those who grew up here. It has also been an annual event for those wishing to come and enjoy what our city has to offer each year.
Over the past several years, our city saw a handful of events that changed the way home looks and feels for many who have grown up here. New faces bring new ideas, time demands progress and many community members are left feeling voiceless and saddened to see that home doesn’t resemble itself any longer. Many mourn the loss of the Oak Harbor Post Office Garry oak tree, City Beach name and our iconic windmill.
Social media recently lit up when it was announced the Holland Happening event was re-branded “Spring Festival.” Many people expressed shock, sadness and anger — that about sums up the comments.
People in the community who came to cherish this event, sponsored each year by the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, expressed concern about losing another piece of what makes Oak Harbor home. To have another childhood memory dissolve away as if it is of no consequence to those holding the decision-making power created backlash.
In writing this letter and starting a petition, I hope to give members of the Oak Harbor community an opportunity to express their opinion and demonstrate to the chamber’s governing board what this event means to this town. We are petitioning that you hear our voices and understand, that this beloved annual event has come to be a part of the fabric of who we are, and we are asking you to reconsider your decision to change the name.
As the chamber of commerce, we, your clients, the consumers who frequent your businesses, and your neighbors, are asking you to hear us. Join us in our community pride and allow us to continue to celebrate one of our town traditions.
I would just like to remind everyone that we do not need to erase who we are and where we come from to ably embrace who we shall become and where the future leads.
• Autumn Sundown is a resident of Oak Harbor.