GREENWOOD – A celebration of the village’s 150th birthday is the theme for Greenwood Fun Day this Saturday.
“Greenwood was incorporated in 1883 but it was actually founded in 1869, so we’re celebrating 150 years this year,” said Jarid Massa, a member of the Greenwood Historical Society and curator for the Greenwood Depot Museum.
As the village’s unofficial “historian,” Massa was the one who brought up the fact that the 150th anniversary of the community’s founding was approaching as he and others began planning this year’s festivities.
“It kind of went from there,” he said.
Silas Greenwood was the first resident of the area in the 1860s. He was an Indian trapper and hunter who lived with his family in a dugout along Salt Creek.
The village was founded when the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad extended its line from Plattsmouth to Lincoln. They wanted to build a station in the area, so local farmers purchased land and donated it to the railroad with the promise that $10,000 worth of improvements would be made in return, according to an account of the village’s history written by Arnetta Carpenter published on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s website www.casde.unl.edu/history/counties/cass/greenwood/.
The railroad depot opened in 1870. That same year, Smith C. Bethel was named postmaster of Greenwood. Two churches were built in 1873 and 1874, and the first school in the community was constructed in 1878. The village was not incorporated until 1883.
The Greenwood Historical Society was founded in 1976. The organization raised money to move the vacated railroad depot to its current location in the Greenwood Village Park to serve as a museum for the community.
Current and former residents of Greenwood will celebrate the village’s 150th birthday with a decorated display cake at the new gazebo that was recently completed in the village park. The Greenwood Historical Society will hand out specially decorated cookies to mark the event, said Massa. They will also sell t-shirts designed for the special occasion.
Massa is among the many volunteers who have put countless hours into preparing the community celebration this year. Michelle Criswell chairs the village’s Parks and Recreation Board, which organizes the event.
“We’re excited about Greenwood Fun Day this year,” said Criswell. “There’s a lot going on.”
Criswell said the parks and recreation board works with the historical society, Friends of the Greenwood Library and other community organizations and volunteers to create a day filled with family activities.
“It’s just a nice, affordable fun thing for families to do, to come out and just enjoy,” she said.
The committee has added a few new activities this year that are geared towards families, Criswell said. Dr. Oxygen (aka Tim Gilloon), a popular entertainer who does fun science experiments called “Bringing Science to Life,” will be at the fire station at 4 p.m.
Another new activity is Family Movie Night, Criswell said. Also held indoors at the fire station, the family-friendly movie will be accompanied by popcorn, pop, water and other treats, said Criswell.
Criswell and her husband, Carl, organize the car show and have had to revamp the event because it has grown so fast in the three years it has been part of Greenwood Fun Day.
In 2018, a total of 176 vintage, antique and specialty vehicles overflowed the village’s downtown streets and were scattered around the community, according to Criswell.
“We had so many cars last year that we ran out of Main Street,” she said.
Expecting even more this year, organizers gathered input from car show enthusiasts and local citizens to come up with a layout that is centralized to the village park, Criswell said. The Village of Greenwood helped with blocking out the streets and Board Member Kevin Gerlach designed a layout for the show that made room for even more vehicles.
“It’s really turned out to be a nice show and I think the community really likes it,” Criswell said.
The parks and recreation board has also worked hard to bring a variety of food to Greenwood Fun Day, Criswell said. The day begins with the Greenwood Christian Church’s pancake feed at the fire station at 7 a.m.
The Tastee Trailer food truck will serve its signature loose meat sandwiches and onion chips. There will also be a food truck making sweet and savory crepes, and Kona Ice will be there as well. The Marine Corps League is serving food in the beer garden.
“It’s kind of fun to change things up a bit,” Criswell said.
The historical society will hold their popular bake sale from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Massa said he recruits bakers from Greenwood, Ashland, Omaha and Lincoln to provide homemade treats.
Bake sales are in Massa’s DNA, as his grandmother and her sisters hold the annual Hightshoe Family Bake Sale during Ashland’s Stir-Up festivities each year. Massa said that’s where he got the idea to hold bake sales to raise money for the historical society.
“From there it’s grown so big that people are driven towards it when it comes around,” he said.
Another fun event hosted by the historical society that has grown over the years is Crazy Bingo. Massa said they ran out of bingo chips last year because there were so many players. This year they purchased 1,000 more chips to be sure they had enough.
The “crazy” part about this bingo is the prizes. Massa said they buy dollar store items that are practical, but fun, for players of all ages.
“They are geared towards older people, and geared towards the younger generation,” Massa said.
The historical society is also hosting an art show during Greenwood Fun Day. Massa said they changed the rules a bit this year, which is the third year they have put on the show.
“We’re limiting it to 18 (years old) and younger and the Greenwood community,” he said.
Art will be displayed in the Depot Museum, where tours will also be given during the day, Massa added.
Another event that brings people to Greenwood Fun
Day is the 5K fun run and walk. The event starts at 8 a.m., with registration beginning an hour earlier.
Criswell said people of all ages enjoy the fun run and walk, organized by Jason Nichelson.
“It’s a really nice family thing,” she said.
There are plenty of other family-friendly events going on, including inflatables for children to enjoy, along with face painting, sand art, pedal tractor pull and additional activities provided by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
The fun isn’t only for the kids, however. The schedule also includes a horseshoe tournament and a washers tournament for the adults, along with a beer garden. All ages will enjoy the dunking booth.
Massa said all of the organizations working on Greenwood Fun Day try to make the annual event better and better.
“Each year we want it to be bigger,” he said.
To find a full schedule for Greenwood Fun Day, go to the Aug. 14 issue of the Market Weekly, inserted in the News and The Ashland Gazette this week or available in the mail.