Friday, July 04, 2008

Fairmont's Father's Day Question

On July 5th, Central United Methodist Church will celebrate the 100th observance of the "First" Father's Day. For as long as I can remember, the City of Fairmont has declared itself the founder of Father's Day. And while you can argue that Fairmont may have celebrated the first Father's Day back in 1908, most do not credit Fairmont as the true birthplace of Father's Day but rather Spokane, Washington.

The real driving force behind the establishment of Father's Day was Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd, born in Creston, Washington. She was inspired by Anna Jarvis's efforts to establish Mother's Day. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father's birthday, she did not provide the organizers with enough time to make arrangements, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June. The first June Father's Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, WA, at the Spokane YMCA.

Sure, this is a full two years after Fairmont celebrated the first Father's Day but all indications appear that the Fairmont Father's Day was but a small, local gathering while the movement was actually led by Mrs. Dodd. In 2001, during his annual Father's Day Proclamation, President Bush also credited Mrs. Dodd for being the driving force behind Father's Day. Most places that discuss the history of Father's Day also credit Dodd for the creation and note that Spokane is the founding location of Father's Day.

The argument can be made that Fairmont actually celebrated the first Father's Day but if no one believes it, then what makes the difference. It's probably too late to steal the crown from Spokane at this point. Unfortunately I was unable to find Coolidge's Father's Day Proclamation that made it a holiday in 1924 but I would be anxious to see if he credits Dodd. My guess is that it is far more likely Dodd is credited than Fairmont, if any such credit is given. Locally, we can continue to give credit to Fairmont but, matter of factly, most do not see it that way.

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