Get out and participate in your community

The Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center held a presentation Saturday afternoon on the history of jazz in Pittsburgh, and some of its influence on American culture.

There were a little more than a dozen people in attendance, counting myself and museum staff.

In a few short months, the summer concerts will be kicking off at the Weirton Event Center. Depending on the scheduled performer, there might be a few hundred out on the lawn, or there might be a few dozen gathered under the tent.

The Festival of Nations, which I mentioned in this space last week, often will get a good crowd coming to try the food and see the dancing.

Various community races often depend on the weather for their attendance, but I’ve noticed their numbers are slipping a bit from where they used to be.

Yet, just about everywhere I go I hear the same thing from people…there’s nothing to do here.

The reality is, there is plenty to do here if people would take the time to look around.

I understand it’s not always going to be something everyone is interested in doing, but each event in our community, from a festival to an art exhibit to a museum presentation to a race to a parade, can be even better if people take part.

I also realize many of us have fond memories of how “things used to be” or are more attracted to the excitement of events in the bigger cities. That’s fine, but should it also prevent you from checking out what is here?

There’s nothing wrong with the “small town” type of events. This is our home, after all, and these events, in many ways, help to celebrate our home towns. They showcase our history and culture, they tell our story, they celebrate where we have been and where we are going.

They should have the people there to support them.

We have many communities, up and down the Ohio River, which feature probably dozens of activities each year. Some are organized by churches, some are established as fundraisers, others by local chambers of commerce or even the municipalities.

It’s so easy to be down about our area. It’s not the way it used to be. I get it. Things can get depressing as we look around and see the way the steel industry has gone, and the years it is taking to try and rebuild.

There is still a great deal of community spirit here, though, and it shows if you are willing to look. You see if at high school athletic events. You see it at various holidays, with fireworks displays and light-up nights.

How many, though, visit any of our local museums? How many go to our parks? How many check out a performance by our local theater groups? How many attend a summer concert or go to one of our community festivals?

We might not have big, flashy celebrations with hundreds of thousands of people filling our streets, but we have something.

And if there isn’t the one thing you think we should have, instead of complaining about it, perhaps you can look into what can be done to bring that thing here.

Our communities grow and thrive based on what we are willing to do for it.

So, instead of just sitting at home, or looking elsewhere, while saying there is nothing to do here, maybe take some time to check out some of the activities and attractions we do have here.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)