Here’s another sketch-post on how to make Whitewater hip & prosperous.

Whitewater should lead with what she uniquely and distinctively offers. What the city has today, and will have tomorrow, is a multi-ethnic and multicultural population. Our Mexican-heritage population is more than a fact; it’s an opportunity for everyone. We should lead with that unique demographic, and organize a weekend festival to celebrate truly for ourselves and others the diverse character of the city.

There’s a Cinco de Mayo celebration in town, but I’m not referring specifically to that event (nor do I have a connection to it). We might use 5.5, but we might alternatively pick another date, later in the summer. I don’t have a name for what I’m suggesting; only ‘Fiesta’ comes to mind. Stoughton’s Syttende Mai around the weekend of 5.17 is like what I have in mind, but there it’s a celebration Norwegian culture.

Whitewater now has several city festivals, of which the Independence Day holiday is easily the biggest. There are bigger holidays during the year (Christmas, of course), but I’m thinking of citywide gatherings. Of those, none is bigger than July 4th. Summer makes participation easy, and the commemoration is as broad-based as any in the city. In a hundred years, Independence Day will still be the city’s biggest outdoor event.

Whitewater would do better for herself, in so many ways, if she would embrace and advance the cosmopolitan vibe that Mexican-American residents offer.

Leaders in this city have trumpeted just about every idea that floats into their heads, but little has been done to lead with Whitewater as a multi-ethic, multicultural city. Contrasted with so many arranged and contrived efforts that are forgotten within a few months, a municipal embrace of an annual, weekend festival would be lasting and positive.

Those who think emphasis on a multicultural city will portray Whitewater poorly are mistaken; a multicultural emphasis is an honest (and trendy and sophisticated) way to present the city.

A few residents — only a few — shy from this because they feel reminders of a multicultural, multi-ethnic city make Whitewater seem downmarket. I’m convinced that’s not true.

An even small number have over the years done far worse, disingenuously presenting with shiny theories their dark work in opposition to an open city. Although they represent the very worst of Old Whitewater, they are a merely a few.

To our city’s common advantage, Old Whitewater has no future; a New Whitewater has begun, and though its full fruition may occasionally be delayed, it cannot be stopped.

Anyone could enjoy a festival like this. People who will like and enjoy a citywide Fiesta are the residents, visitors, and newcomers we most need: accepting, open, ambitious, creative, optimistic, successful.

Those traits, we may be sure, are truly and fundamentally American ones.

An annual celebration like this should be a top municipal priority.

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