Cedar Rapids Works to Win “All-America” City Award

By Jill Kasparie, KCRG-TV9

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — The city is preparing to face off against about two dozen other cities to get the “All-America City” Award.

The National Civic League will recognize ten communities as the winners by the end of this weekend.

The award is given to cities that prove they’ve overcome challenges over time.

This year’s award has a special focus on health, spotlighting programs that improve well-being. Programs that, for example, reduce obesity, create walkable cities, encourage biking or push healthy eating habits.

Nearly 40 people, including community members and city leaders, will head to Denver in just a couple days.

So, the group is putting finishing touches on a performance to bring back that title to Cedar Rapids.

It’s not often that you see city leaders singing and performing.

“Some of us government people are less than comfortable saying lines and singing songs and things like that, but it has been a lot of fun,” said Assistant City Manager Sandi Fowler.

City leaders and community volunteers are bound and determined to win the “All-America City” title.

With the help of Casey Prince with Theatre Cedar Rapids, they’ll put on a show.

Tuesday night, the group held one of the final rehearsals at the library.

“When we get to Denver, hopefully, everyone will be less anxious about, you know, ‘Where’s the door?’ and ‘How big is the stage?’” Prince said.

Actors will tell the story of overcoming the flood and the rebuilding process through a song, skit and even art.

“Some abstract painting will be going on, with where we paint our city and we white wash it, then we rebuild it and stuff. So, it’s to mimic the city going through the flood,” said Community Volunteer Craig Byers.

The competition, however, does not result in any kind of monetary award. Instead, the city will pay about $18,000 to send city staff and council members. The group also collected donations from businesses of about $27,000 to pay for community members to take the trip. City leaders said it’s worth the money spent to take the trip, because the award often carries economic benefits for the cities.

“It really is an award that tells the nation that we are a quality city. It is all about designation, but cities across the country know what it means and businesses looking to go to those cities also know what it means,” Fowler said.

The actors would agree, getting the All-America City award would be music to their ears.

City leaders said they’ve never applied for this title before. The group is also anxious to learn more about healthy programs from other cities vying for the award. They said they plan to bring those ideas back to Cedar Rapids.

l Comments: 319-398-8268; jill.kasparie@kcrg.com

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