Betterment Committee will lead the Parade!
By Lindsey Corell

From flower baskets to street banners, the Denver Betterment Committee has helped to beautify the town of Denver for around 20 years. It is no surprise that this year, they will be appreciated for all their work as the 2019 Denver Break-Away Grand Marshals.

In the early 2000s, Pam Wolter created the Denver Betterment Committee.

“The idea was to help the community by making the town more beautiful and to help with things that needed to be done,” said committee member Kem Scott.

“It was also to help foster community spirit,” added committee member Joanne Danielsen.

The committee started out with around eight members, three of which are still active today. Caryl Tjaden, Kem Scott and Kathy Schweer are three members that have been a part of the Denver Betterment Committee since the group begin. Other current members include: Joanne Danielsen, Cristina Johari, Deb Fowler, Deb Galpin, Deb Willhite, Joanne Blumenshine, Kelly Platte, Linda Schult and Pat Leonhart. Pam Wolters will be rejoining the group soon and Linda Wittenburg will become a new member.

Over the years, the Denver Betterment Committee has worked on several projects around town. Some of those projects are done yearly. During the fall season, the members will decorate the lampposts with scarecrows and cornstalks. Flower hanging baskets and pots around town during the spring and summer are watered daily by the committee members.

Each year, they host the Old-Fashioned Christmas Event. The Old-Fashioned Christmas Event is their largest and longest tradition. Many businesses in Denver help to make it a special weekend. The event activities include the Festival of Trees, gingerbread house contest, table setting contest, carolers, piano recitals, pictures with Santa, gift basket auction, raffles, Christmas crafts and more.

“Churches get involved by cookie and pie sales, the Legion hosts a bazaar and many of the businesses have specials,” said Scott. “The idea is to get as much community involvement as possible.”

The most recent largest project that the committee is credited for is the DENVER flower garden on the south-side of town in front of Casey’s. This spring, the committee added ‘Welcome to Denver” signs in all of the flower pots around town.

Other projects or events by the committee have included installing bike racks, “Welcome to Denver, Iowa” street banners, swing gliders in the parks, diggers at the Denver Complex park, William F. Tjaden memory tree by Denver Elementary School, origami butterfly display in the Denver Community Center, Music in the Park, the memory lights at the Veterans Tribute area and a booth when RAGBRAI rode through Denver.

“Each of us bring our own talents to the committee,” said Danielsen. “It makes it nice for each of the projects we do.”

Projects by the Denver Betterment Committee are mainly funded by grants from the Schumacher family, donations from Denver businesses and raffles during the Old-Fashioned Christmas Event.

The committee meets on a need-to basis and a lot of their conversations are done through email.

The committee not only joins up for meetings, but also to do things outside of planning projects such as going to the movies or dining together at restaurants.

“We are shocked that we have been selected as the Grand Marshals,” said member Caryl Tjaden. “It feels really nice to be appreciated and we thank all the Denver businesses who have always supported us.”

The Denver Betterment Committee is always looking for new members and input from the community on projects they would like to see happen around Denver. For questions about the committee or project ideas, connect Tjaden at 319-984-5153.

The Denver Break-Away Days Parade will begin at 10:00 AM this Saturday, Aug. 17, starting at the Denver Community School District parking lot.
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