It's not everyday that Gloversville can lay claim to beating out a major metropolitan city to become the first city in the U.S. to participate in an international movement, but Saturday was that day.
Gloversville became the 32nd city in the world to hold a "100in1 Day" Saturday, an event that asks people to collectively perform 100 acts of positivity in their community in a single day.
"We are the first, I'm a little proud of that. We beat Denver," Jennifer Jennings, the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth's downtown specialist, told a crowd at Gloversville's Trail Station Park. "When I went to sign up for this in February, I realized we were the first in the country to do it. It's great that our little city of 15,000 people in the southern Adirondacks is the first to host this."
Jenning's said 100in1 Day fits into her "place making" philosophy of urban planning, which is attempting to revitalize the city's downtown, a process which can take 15 to 20 years.
She explained that the 100in1 Day movement was started in Bogotá, Colombia in 2012 by a group of students who wanted to encourage people in the community to do helpful things for others. The event spread, and is now celebrated throughout all of Canada on June 2.
What counts as a positive act?
"The idea is to have 100 small activities," Jenings said. "They can be free, they can be as short as 15 minutes or as long as all day. The idea is to create positive action. Change is not predicated on one person, but one person can have a positive lasting impact," she said. "This is critical mass. You can not deny that things are happening, when 100 things are happening."
Gloversville is now listed with major cities like Toronto, Montreal and yes, Denver, on the 100in1day.org website. Jennings said the website tracks all 100in1 day events and they informed her she was able to organize Gloversville's day of action ahead of Denver's, which doesn't have a scheduled day yet.
The event, however, did not quite total 100 events, but there were about 90 of them, all created by community members and not planned by Jennings.
The events included a wide range of different activities, including spring cleaning at Park Terrace Elementary School on Kingsboro Avenue to Veterans Park at Parkhurst Field, and from the four corners of West and East Fulton streets to South Main Street. Employees of Taylor Made Products cleaned up the city's Rail Trail near Harrison Street.
Other activities included tree plantings, a car wash at the Gloversville Fire Department, a free breakfast for senior citizens, food drives, clothing give-aways, bench installations, childrens car seat inspections, bike safety clinics, a book exchange, a preview of the Caroga Arts Collective's summer concert series, free drawing lessons and a performance by the Insolent Willies Band in front of the Mohawk Harvest Coop.
Gloversville Superintendent David Halloran partnered with Jennings to allow school facilities and many student clubs to participate in the event.
“Events such as this go a long way in teaching children that giving back to your community, even in small ways, can have a profound impact,” Halloran said.
Some of the actions were tasty. Anthony's Pizza and Pasta gave out free slices of pizza and Stewart's Shops donated free make-your-own sundaes.
Some of the actions smelled good. Peck's Flowers handed out 100 free carnations, each with a famous quote on them, like: "Where flowers bloom, so does hope,” Lady Bird Johnson.
"We like to believe flowers make people smile, so we thought we'd give away free smiles today," florist Marissa Stevens said. "I think this event is awesome. I'm interested in all of the positivity that is coming into Gloversville lately. It's much needed."
Some actions were relatively short term in nature. Free 100in1 Day: Gloversville stickers were handed out by Sticker Mule.
Some actions were meant to have a long-lasting effect, like the spring cleaning of the 104-year-old Glove Theatre, which included the removal of the theatre's tatered and frayed wall tapestries. New Glove Theatre President Laurie Lazinski said the tapestries had to be sprayed with flame retardant chemicals annually.
"They had been up since at least the '70s, if they weren't original to the building. We're thinking about just putting up soundboards that don't have to sprayed every year," Lazinski said. "We have a whole new board, so we are cleaning up old stuff that was sitting around. We emptied the box office. We cleaned out the kitchen, the concession stand, the basement, and we're starting over, getting rid of things that we can't use, so we can start fresh."
Some activities were typical community events, but done in a different way. Maggie Grant, president of the "Venturing Crew 918," a green uniform co-ed division of the Boy Scouts, led her group in a food drive and bottle collection out of the South Main Street Stewart's Shop Saturday.
Grant said Venturing Crews are more egalitarian than the other youth scouting organizations, and they are led by their members, who range in age from 14 to 21.
"Right now, I'm equal to, or even above, our adviser Bruce Laurence," she said. "In Venturing, the kids are allowed to have a say in what they're going to do."
Lawrence said the group was formed in September 2018 and is the only one in the area that he's aware of.
"It's youth-run, so unless there's a health or safety issue, the adults aren't allowed to say anything," Lawrence said.
Grant said the group was going to use the proceeds from the bottle collections to help pay for uniforms for members who can't afford them.
Jennings said she plans to make the event an annual tradition, probably taking place in early May, which she said is a good time to kick off the planned schedule of summer events, like the Southern Adirondack Food and Wine Festival set for June 1.