Celebrating Carnation’s century: Volunteer group has big plans for involvement in Tolt centennial

Helping to plan Carnation’s birthday bash, from left, seated, are Collienne Becker, Janet Heubach, Isabel Jones, Mimi Berger and Annie Gerson; standing, Lee Grumman, Rhoda Bezdicek, Diana Collins, and Mary Miller.  - Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo
Helping to plan Carnation’s birthday bash, from left, seated, are Collienne Becker, Janet Heubach, Isabel Jones, Mimi Berger and Annie Gerson; standing, Lee Grumman, Rhoda Bezdicek, Diana Collins, and Mary Miller.
— image credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

To commemorate its 100th year as a city, Carnation will do things the way it always has – with plenty of community involvement, pioneering spirit and dedication.

The scheduled events—a community picnic, barn dance,  and birthday party—and projects, like the community cookbook and story-telling evening, all reflect that approach, as do the members of the Centennial committee.

At a recent planning meeting, the last before the July 4 celebration, committee members gathered, some still finishing their dinners, to brainstorm about new projects, even as they were finalizing the planned events. They volunteered for extra tasks, while worrying that other members already had too much to do—and joked about adding tasks to absent members’ lists. And they ran down the list of the families they wanted to recognize for having three-plus generations in the community, or for being there for 50 years.

Among them are the Aronicas, the Loutsises, the Engels, Amoses, Powells and Remlingers, who were invited to march in the July 4 parade that will kick off the six-month celebration of Carnation’s first 100 years.

“We need all those people in the parade!” said committee chairperson Lee Grumman, to general agreement.

Members started suggesting contacts in the families, and other longtime families, and they all turned to their default source for Carnation history, Isabel Jones. She has phone numbers and details about many of the families, but, as the July 4 parade grand marshal, she can’t march in the parade to represent her own family, the John T. Larsons, who homesteaded in the area that is now the Swiftwater neighborhood.

“We don’t have anybody left,” Jones said, shrugging.

No matter, people volunteered to reach out to families, and there were other events to be planned, like the community portrait, planned for 4 p.m. during the Pioneer Potluck Picnic, Sunday, Aug. 5, which runs from 1 to 6 p.m. at Tolt-MacDonald Park. Could they get people to arrange themselves in the shape of the centennial logo, the committee wondered.

Historic design

The logo is a little complex, since it includes both of the city’s names, Tolt and Carnation.

“In 1912 it was Tolt. In 1917, they gave Mr. E.A. Stuart, founder of Carnation farm credit, and changed the name to Carnation,” said Jones. Then, “some of the old-timers got huffy about it,” and a 1928 city vote changed the name back to Tolt, she said. It changed one more time, when leaders of the women’s club, hoping for a prettier name than Tolt, got the issue back on the ballot, and Carnation won again.

So far, Carnation seems to have stuck, but both names are part of the celebration, the logo, and the city itself, where the main street is called Tolt Avenue.

The celebration starts with the July 4 parade, and an event almost every month following. The Pioneer Picnic in August was scheduled for immediately after the Tolt Historical Society’s all-school reunion, in hopes of attracting former students and teachers to both events.

September’s event incorporates the Hippodrome on Carnation Farm, now known as Camp Korey, but always an important landmark in the community’s history. This adults-only event, Sunday, Sept. 30, 5 to 8 p.m., is an old-fashioned barn dance and dessert potluck, with wine, plus optional tours of the Tolt Historical Society museum.

In October, residents can enjoy an evening of music and story-telling, and another historic landmark in the city at the Tolt Centennial at Soundfalls. On Saturday, Oct. 13, from 6 to 9 p.m., people will gather in the acoustically remarkable barn of Carnation Tree Farm for performances by local talent.

Look for the centennial community cookbook some time in November, when holiday gift-shopping begins. The cookbooks will feature residents’ favorite recipes, along with a short story about how each recipe came into the family, or came to be a favorite. Residents are encouraged to submit up to three recipes by e-mail to

Residents can also become part of the community’s next phase in history, by adding their names to the walkway in the Tolt Commons Park. Committee members are selling stone pavers, engraved with your family’s name, and the year you came to the city, for $70. Pavers will be on sale at the centennial committee’s booth in the vendor village July 4, or can be ordered by sending an e-mail message to

On the big day, Dec. 31, when Carnation’s articles of incorporation were signed 100 years ago, the city will throw a birthday bash, complete with fireworks.

There’s still plenty to do in the meantime, and more to come. To stay informed, visit the Centennial website at:


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