The plan for the Minnesota Sesquicentennial -- the recognition of the 150th anniversary of our state -- calls for the main public celebration to be held a week after the actual date, May 11, that Minnesota was admitted to the Union back in 1858.
That's not enough. We need to hold things off more than a week. A year would be much better. Or maybe we should just call the whole thing off.
We don't seem to be grown up enough to plan a party for something as important as our state. The lame-o celebration now shaping up for the 150th -- officially just 128 days away -- is too embarrassing to believe. This is not a Sesquicentennial (the prefix "sesqui" means "one and a half") because there is nothing half-way about this:
This is a full-blown bore. And it's being ruined by a fish.
The state's May 11 birthday conflicts with the opening weekend of walleye fishing. It is also Mother's Day, and although there are proposals to prevent you mothers from spoiling future fishing openers, 2008 puts the moms up against the minnows. Moms don't have a chance: minnows always get more action in May.
I warned you eight months ago that our state's politicians had appropriated next to nothing to celebrate a century and a half of our state's story -- about 15 cents per resident, compared with $3 a head (in today's money) spent on the 1958 observance of Minnesota's Centennial.
My hope was to shame Gov. Tim Pawlenty and other state leaders into keeping up with the Cheddarheads, who pulled off a big celebration of the Badger State's Sesquicentennial 10 years ago.
But if there is one thing we learned last year, it is that our leaders cannot be embarrassed. They can even turn a bridge tragedy into a grandstanding photo opportunity.
An 11th-hour effort to find more money for the 150th birthday bash came to naught. And naught is close to what it looks like we're going to get.
Four months to go, and there is no funding at hand for fireworks or tent pavilions or even an Oompah band. If today was statehood day, you could go down to the Capitol and run around in circles waving sparklers, but you'd just end up looking like one more state commissioner without a clue.
If no one comes, why bother?
We can't even get the day right. If you were planning a big birthday party for yourself, this is the point -- when you find out no one is coming, you bag the whole thing and just take a nice hot bath.
Quick, someone buy a Grim Reaper balloon: This is no way to run a state, or celebrate one.
Which is why the best solution is to call it off in 2008. And move this party to 2009.
Postponing a party is wise when you're not in the mood (after 2007, how could we be in the mood?). If you're not ready to put on the dog, wait.
Technically, Minnesota's 150th year began last May 11, so waiting a year longer is no big deal. Partying in 2009 has clear advantages:
1) It allows time to raise more money. So far, a measly quarter- million has been received in private donations.
2) It allows time to authorize and sell commemorative Sesquicentennial license plates. Wisconsin funded its 1998 celebration with the sale of 500,000 plates. Minnesota could do the same and also use the occasion to retire a few of the many ugly special plates on the roadways.
3) It keeps politics clear of the Sesquicentennial, which comes this year at the height of the presidential election cycle and a time when political leaders will be trying to score points. We don't want a brawl to break out at our birthday party, although it would make an interesting historical reenactment: Minnesota began with its parties at daggers drawn, and two identical but separate Constitutions -- one signed by Republicans, the other by Democrats. It'd be nice to see evidence that, after 150 years, we've matured. A bit.
4) It resolves conflicts between our Big 1-5-0 and our moms. May 11 is a Monday in 2009, leaving Mother's Day out of our state's birthday plans. And, if a proposal to separate the fishing opener from Mother's Day is approved, fishing would start a week earlier.
See? It makes sense:
Let's postpone the Sesquicentennial until we can do it right, and until we can get our moms off the hook.
After all, Minnesota is the mother of us all.
Nick Coleman • email@example.com