Proclamation Day saves the world!
a PROCLAMATION: Whereas April 1 is fast approaching and is a day of great importance. It marks the 92nd day of 2012. Ninety-two is the atomic number for uranium, a chemical element high on everyone’s list during these tense times; additionally, 92 is the international telephone code for Pakistan (a fact unrelated to the uranium tidbit); and 92 is also a very respectable age to reach.
+(Feb. 18, 1992 was proclaimed Hug A Senior Day by then Mayor Don Lane.)
Whereas April 1 also marks a day when, in some cultures, jokes or pranks are played on one’s friends and co-workers, to the amusement of oneself and (hopefully) others. This tomfoolery is taken one step foolery-er in Italy and France, where the day is referred to as April Fish Day; paper fish are tacked onto the backs of unsuspecting persons, and the joyful cry, “April fish!” rings through the streets.
+(Dec. 19, 2002 was proclaimed Laugh Day by sitting Mayor Emily Reilly.)
Whereas April 1 is also the date in 1893 when the rank of chief petty officer was established in the United States Navy, forever eliciting snorts and muffled titters from punsters and Heartbreakers fans alike.
+(Sept. 14, 1989 was proclaimed Chump Change Day by Mayor Mardi Wormhoudt.)
And whereas journalists traditionally invoke the popular April Fool’s Immunity Clause when publishing baseless, fact-challenged and conjecture-heavy pieces of work during the days that surround this time-honored celebration.
+(Sept. 24, 1989 was Integrity Day thanks to John Laird.)
Now therefore, with all of the above in mind, a majority of mindful locals will agree that April 1 is a pretty fantastic day, and should be marked in some very special way.
The Proclamation, to wit “an official public announcement of great importance,” has a storied past, with varied outcomes. Most sources point to Anglo-Monarchical roots, although it’s difficult to imagine any culture running smoothly without the ostentatious public reading of scrolled, royally sealed documents of grandiose nature. If we look back through the looking glass with a critical eye, we can see that the overall adoption and application of Proclamations is improving, little by little, as we get closer to our present day.
During colonial times, the Proclamation of 1763, made by one King George III, set out to end New World settlers’ progress past the Appalachian Mountians range. Nice try, King, from the settled and progressive West Coast.
One hundred years later another famous Proclamation hit closer to the mark. In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation, made by President Abraham Lincoln (for those of you born yesterday), addressed freedom on the front lines of the Civil War. It was a strategic military move that got an important ball rolling (arguably still rolling).
Seventy-six years later, the Proclamation hit a bull’s-eye. A tense citizenry looked on as it was proclaimed, “As coroner, I must aver, I thoroughly examined her. And she’s not only merely dead, she’s really most sincerely dead,” allowing the local mayor to claim independence for his people. After a fire-y and airborne-primate- filled battle, peace came to the small land.
The gravitas of a Proclamation is perhaps most grimly illustrated by the knowledge that, through the power of a Mayoral Proclamation, a restaurateur named Jim Tarbell holds the title of Mr. Cincinnati for life. I repeat—for life. A reminder to, as the old saying almost goes, be careful what you proclaim.
Don Lane really likes being the Mayor of Santa Cruz. In fact, 20 years ago he tried it for the first time, liked it pretty well, and is now giving it a second go-round. This makes perfect sense, even to us non-politicos. For instance, I once had a sandwich at a place out by the flea market, liked it pretty well, and will give it another go soon (although surely before 20 years have passed). But since here in Santa Cruz, mayors are appointed based on vote tallies in City Council elections— so since nobody can actually run for mayor—it’s kind of a neat surprise when the honor is bestowed. Kind of like pickles on that sandwich!
The differences in the international socio-economic climate between Mayor Don Lane’s 1992 reign and today’s are too numerous to list here, but include such benchmarks as Slovakia gaining its own sovereignty, Western Samoa dropping its first name, Regis still being Live With Kathie Lee, and of course dogs once again enjoying Pacific Avenue.
The similarities are also numerous. Twenty years ago may seem like a lifetime (again, to those of you born yesterday); recorded history was in its technological infancy. However, the mayor vaguely recalls the community coming together to rebuild after a recession, as well as from an earth-moving natural disaster. And today, in 2012, another economic challenge is rearing its ugly head, and really, let’s be honest about Mother Nature— didn’t she just try to swallow the Boardwalk last week? Who saw that coming!
“My timing is really not very good,” says an affable Lane, “It was pretty stressful. Both times (being mayor) we are at a time of greater scarcity.”
But do not fear, Santa Cruz. Your mayor has a plan to address any perceived shortages, at least in the tom-foolery department. And his plan includes you.
Get your Sunday-go-to-meetings pressed and ready, because April 1, 2012 will be declared Proclamation Day in the City of Santa Cruz. Proclamation Day will be a day like no other, when all of the pomp and circumstance, all of the grandeur, smoke and mirrors, all of the grandiosity that really says “oh brother” will come to a frothy, self-important head on the balcony of the Rittenhouse Building at high noon.
It will be a day (an hour, to be precise) of banners, heralds, street performances and confetti. A day (60 minutes, if you want to know the truth), when former mayors will co-mingle with future mayors, when a Greek chorus of local habitants will chant “Whereas!” as famous (and infamous) past proclamations are re-read. It will be a day (3,600 seconds if you really want to be a jerk) when County Treasurer Fred Keeley will be allowed to speak into a microphone without a censor. Just this once.
Proclamation Day (1/24 of a day, really) will be the most important event falling on April 1, 2012 between 11:59 a.m. and 1:01 p.m. in all of Downtown Santa Cruz, including but definitely limited to Pacific Avenue at the corner of Church Street and approximately 30 feet in either direction.
Can this brouhaha be justified? Does it make sense to close a street for an hour of tongue-in-cheek mayhem? Will this theatrico-civic event benefit anyone beyond the confetti sweeper-uppers and Santa Cruz reputation-watchers? Yes, yes and yes! Proclamation Day, beyond its role as pure hooey, will be a fundraiser for the Teen Center (located in the Louden Nelson Center), and I can’t think of a nicer organization to honor in such an audacious manner. Eager donors and participants are already giving in $10 increments at friendsofparksandrec.org/donations.php (being sure to choose the Teen Center option).
“I have this idea, based on nothing, and I imagine raising $3-4,000,” is how the Mayor describes the intense process that hatched this plan. Yes, the April Fools’ Day event seemed like an awful lot of fun from the get-go, but to ensure that locals jumped on the bandwagon, to make sure people were fully invested, it was important that they … invest. In a worthy cause. Because that’s what we do here, right?
By making a donation to the Teen Center, your name will be included in the official Proclamation Day Proclamation, which will be read aloud. Those named will forever be remembered in the annals of this city as good sports, upstanding citizens and measurably more fun to the casual onlooker (past performance is not a guarantee of future results, individual results may vary, however, it couldn’t hurt, right?) If you see the Mayoral Duo scurrying about town with the Santa Cruz White Pages under an arm, it’s because they’ve been rehearsing. “There will be lots of names to read. Vice Mayor Hilary Bryant and I will gladly read them all,” Lane says.
When pressed to elaborate on his Proclamation Day vision, to reveal his inspiration for this grand illusion, the mayor admits to the impetus behind this heady event. And quite frankly, it’s architecturally driven.
“For me personally, it’s all about that balcony” (referring to the speech-worthy third floor balcony of the Rittenhouse, and its grand view of Pacific Avenue),” says Lane. “That’s where it all started. It’s never been used for a civic event, so now we can check that off the list.” The attending mayors, past and present, can join the legions of famous (and infamous) balcony orators of history: Evita Peron, the Pope(s), Juliet Capulet, Benito Mussolini, Michael Jackson. The mayor makes no bones about his lofty goals for the day when he addresses how we, the people, the citizenry, the unwashed masses, might be changed after this one hour of theatrical buffoonery. “It’s not that we will change, but that we have reinforced that Santa Cruz is weird for another year,” Lane says. Indeed, at least another year.
Lane is quick to point out the fiscal responsibility of the event when he confirms that no public funds were injured in the making of this debacle: “I haven’t detected any yet.”
Other hard-hitting questions evoked similar confidence.
How will Proclamation Day solve all of our city’s ills? “Because I will proclaim all our problems to be over. That’s all it takes.”
Then why haven’t you done it before now? “It takes a while to organize. And it’s important it be done on April 1 so people see how important it is.”
How does our volume of Proclamations in Santa Cruz compare to other communities nationwide? “I don’t have any sense of that,” he notes. Honest enough, but when forced to guess, or maybe fabricate an answer in the spirit of fun, he offers his personal opinion: “I have a sense that our culture around proclamations is more developed than some other places. People get a kick out of it, seem to be excited, sometimes amused, especially when a day is declared.”
And what about The Day That Would Not Be Declared? “I think I was the cause of the biggest proclamation controversy in Santa Cruz. 1992 was the year Madonna’s book (“Sex”) came out—very controversial. A friend who was a huge Madonna fan asked if I could do a Madonna Day proclamation, so I told him to write a letter of request to City Hall. A form letter went back to him, the same letter that all inquiries get. A diligent reporter read that letter. That month in history was a dangerous time for Madonna, not like today when nobody would give her a second thought. The reporter prints a story ‘Mayor to Declare Madonna Day’ and it became an amusing Santa Cruz story. I never issued that proclamation. The least understood fact of that—it never happened. I never lived it down.”
With this cautionary tale fresh in mind, it is with great excitement that Mayor Don Lane announces a Write Your Own Proclamation contest that will begin at noon, and continue at the Museum of Art & History until 2 p.m. Forms will be available at the event to be completed and turned in at the Museum. All of the self-written proclamations will be carefully examined, with great consideration given to the content, style, relevance and flair for the subject undertaken. Two winners will be determined, and will become real honest-to-goodness Mayoral Proclamations. They will be presented in an appropriate manner in the not-too-distant future. Does the fun ever stop? (Yes, at 2 p.m.)
While Mayor Lane can now face Proclamation Day without Madonna hanging over his head, one wonders how the following Proclamations that did happen might stand the test of time:
Serious in Nature
Lost Boys Day—July 25, 2007 (Emily Reilly)
Santa Cruz Lawn Bowling Day—May 5, 2001 (Tim Fitzmaurice)
Good Posture Month—May 1990 (Mardi Wormhoudt)
UCSC Banana Slug Day—Sept. 27, 2011 (Ryan Coonerty)
Gabriel Quarternote Day (a cat)—Dec. 12, 2010 (Mike Rotkin)
PJ Matonak Day (another cat)—Dec. 11, 2010 (Mike Rotkin)
Jax Day (a dog, albeit a police dog)—Sept. 27, 2011 (Ryan Coonerty)
Frontrunners For The Most Awkward Names
Mosquito and Vector Control and West Nile Virus Awareness Week—May 3– 9, 2004 (Scott Kennedy)
Highway 1/Mission Street Widening Project Dedication Day—May 2, 2002 (Christopher Krohn)
And Some That Read Like The Book of Geneologies
Emily Reilly begat Tim Fitzmaurice Day, who in turn begat the Mike Rotkin Minute, and he begat Cynthia Mathews Day who begat Sam Farr Appreciation Day. And there was much rejoicing. Celia Scott begat Mike Rotkin Day who begat another Sam Farr Appreciation Day (more rejoicing) as well as a Ryan Coonerty Day. And lo did Christopher Krohn also beget Congressman Sam Farr Day, to even more rejoicing. Amen.
A Moment of Clarity
For those of you trying to read between the lines, or the tongues in the cheeks, here is the real deal on Sunday’s fun:
What:Proclamation Day, Sunday April 1, 2012
A Benefit for the Teen Center
Where: The Balcony of the Rittenhouse Building, Pacific Avenue at Church Street
When: Noon to 1 p.m.
And then: The Museum of Art & History for the Write Your Own Proclamation Contest
When: 1-2 p.m.
Cost: Event is Free
Donate: Donate to the Teen Center (choose the Teen Center option). Your name will be included and read in the Proclamation Day Proclamation.
The contributing April Fool is hoping to have Kim Luke Nap Time proclaimed at some point in the future, and plans to celebrate daily. Send comments—quietly—to [email protected].
“write your own proclamation” Contest
As part of Proclamation Day—April 1, 2012—Santa Cruz Mayor Don Lane is inviting local residents to submit an entry in the “write your own proclamation” contest.
Using the form on the other side of this sheet, create your suggested proclamation. Proclamations can be about a lot of different subjects. Proclamations often honor a person, place or event. They often highlight a charitable cause or an issue of broad community interest. Sometimes they are created for a grand opening or anniversary of an important community institution. The possibilities are almost unlimited. Have fun with it. Take note of the samples (right) that provoke ideas of what typical proclamations look like.
Two winning proclamations will be selected by an undistinguished panel of judges—one will be a proclamation created by a youth under the age of 18 and one will be for a proclamation created by an adult. The two winning submissions will be turned into official Santa Cruz Mayor Proclamations and presented at an upcoming city council meeting. There are very few rules… Just complete your proclamation on the back of this page, submit it at Proclamation Day festivities downtown on April 1 (at the Rittenhouse building at noon or at the Museum of Art & History from 1 to 2 p.m.) and Include your contact info. That’s it.
Whereas, Chip Hoogozebi-Wunaim has a very difficult name to spell and pronounce; and
Whereas, Mr. Hoogozebi-Wunaim has chosen to stop using his last name because of that difficulty; and
Whereas, There are many well-known persons, including Madonna and Popeye who have led successful lives while using only their first names; and
Whereas, Mr. Hoogozebi-Wunaim is also leading a successful life right here in Santa Cruz and is something of a local celebrity:
Now Therefore I , Don, Mayor of the City of Santa Cruz, do hereby proclaim Thursday, Feb. 30, 2012 as “Celebrities with One Name Day” in the City of Santa Cruz and urge all local residents to join me in honoring those who dare to go by only one name.
Now Therefore I do hereby proclaim: ________________________________________________
Author’s name: __________________________ Phone: ______________________________________
Address: _______________________________ Email:______________________________________
Entrant category: (circle one) Under 18 or 18 & over