Hundreds of community members ran two miles through the park Saturday morning, raising enough funds to keep Bidwell Mansion open.
About 500 people registered and made contributions towards the Run for Bidwell Mansion event, and 350 people participated. Runner Leann Martin said the clouds and rain could not keep the mansion supporters away. “I think the people who were honestly going to come out and want to devote their time were going to run no matter what,” she said. “I think the turn out was pretty good for the first time this has been organized.”
The run began in the One-Mile section of Bidwell Park and ended with a celebration in front of Bidwell Mansion.
Although this was the signature fund-raising event, efforts to save Bidwell mansion started months ago. Last year state budget cuts threatened to close the 150-year-old building down. The Bidwell Mansion Community Project steering committee was formed in November with the goal to raise $100,000 by April 1st and keep the mansion open for one more year.
Committee chair Lisa Creamer-O’Donnell said donations have steadily come in from school groups, business, local organizations and the North Valley Community Foundation. “The community support was just fabulous. The out-pouring of love and support for this historic park is absolutely amazing, and I’m so honored to be a part of all of this,” she said. She also pointed out sponsors on the back of the blue T-shirts who each donated at least $300 for the mansion.
With funds from the run event, the $100,000 objective was exceeded, allowing the mansion to stay open to the public for three days a week and two days for school field trips. “The school kids want this mansion to stay open,” said organizer Debra Lucero during a speech on the mansion porch. “And we owe it to them to do exactly that. This is our heritage.”
“We’ve raised $100,000 in 90 days to keep a community landmark open to the public,” said Patrick Bulmer, fundraising chair and John Bidwell Parlor #21 representative. “I’m very pleased with our results. This is success in any way you measure it.” He mentioned the possibility of another run event next year. “We are immediately going to start looking into creating a sustainable plan over years two, three, and beyond.”
Most of the mansion supporters have been on tours through the property before. After helping to raise funds and awareness on Saturday, they say they will be making return visits soon.
About the Author: Angelica is a college graduate with a degree in journalism and technical communication from Colorado State University. There she worked as a producer, anchor, and reporter for CTV News in Fort Collins and interned at CBS News in Sacramento. She also served as Editor-In-Chief for the GRIOT cultural newsletter. Angelica is now married and living in Chico.