When the COVID-19 pandemic took over everyday life in Ohio this spring, the city of Solon decided to cancel the majority of its bicentennial events throughout the year. But the city’s “Passport to Solon” business campaign has remained on track in an effort to encourage exploration of Solon’s business district.

The campaign was created as a way to include Solon’s business community in the city’s bicentennial events, but when the coronavirus began taking a toll on local businesses, the campaign became a way to help a part of the community that was in need.

“Most of our bicentennial celebrations had to be canceled because they involved gatherings of large crowds, but the campaign around exploring local businesses still works,” said Angee Shaker, Solon’s economic development director. “Our business community could use the support now more than ever.”

Passport to Solon began June 11, and will conclude Nov. 30. Residents can pick up a passport and earn stamps on their booklets by visiting any of the 28 participating businesses.

After residents get their passports stamped at 10 or more businesses, the passports can be mailed to the Solon Chamber of Commerce, 6240 SOM Center Road, No. 211, Solon, OH 44139, where the resident’s name will be entered into a raffle for different prize packages to be held virtually in early December.

Some of this year’s canceled bicentennial events included a time capsule opening and a bicentennial ball. Tracy Sullivan, a member of Solon’s bicentennial planning committee, said she hopes the time capsule opening will be moved to an in-person event next year, such as the annual Solon Home Days.

While it was a difficult decision to cancel the in-person events this summer, Sullivan said the city was able to celebrate the beginning of its bicentennial before the pandemic.

“The city of Solon has taken the community’s health and safety into great consideration over the last few months,” Sullivan said in an email to the CJN. “And although we canceled the remaining bicentennial events, we were able to celebrate Solon’s history, residents and businesses earlier this year.”

Tim Carlin is the Irving I. Stone Editorial Intern at the Cleveland and Columbus Jewish News.

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