Special events and activities provide the opportunity to interact with the community outside the daily work environment. They are an excellent opportunity to build relationships with diverse populations and expose the community to public works in a different light. Use the information that follows to spark creativity within your organization

There are two primary considerations when choosing events and activities: the message and the target audience. Take the time to ensure that the event communicates your intended message to the target audience. Also make sure each event and activity you plan will meet at least one of the measurable objectives established for the celebration. Following are sample events and related activities.

Topics in this section:

- Slide or Video presentation
- Retrospective


Ask elected officials to make a proclamation for National Public Works Week.

Thought starters:

Contact the official's office at least one month in advance.
Write a brief cover letter and enclose a draft of the proclamation. In the letter, request a time to photograph the official presenting the proclamation to the designated public works representative during a scheduled public works event or a meeting.

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Environmental Campaign

Develop a week of activities to improve the community's environment. Show the many ways public works departments contribute to your community's environmental health.

Thought starters:

Invite garden clubs, civic groups, historic preservation societies, schools and scouting councils to join you in an environmental project, or suggest a project of their own.
Organize a tree-planting ceremony, recycling drive, public grounds clean-up or free, safe disposal of oversized items and household hazardous wastes.
Launch a campaign to solicit organizations to adopt a highway or public park.

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Public Works Exhibit

Create an exhibit to spotlight your organization's recent successes and emphasize how they benefit all citizens. Arrange to display your exhibit at libraries, community centers and shopping malls. You may be able to take advantage of a captive audience by exhibiting at a scheduled community event.

Thought starters:

Feature public works equipment, display photos of facilities and provide information on upcoming public works projects.
Show a film or video of public works in action.
When practical, have a representative from various departments staff the exhibit to answer questions and provide information.

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Rodeo/Equipment Show

Display equipment your department uses in day-to-day operations. Give public works employees the opportunity to show the skill required to operate public works equipment.

Thought starters:

Select a location with high visibility such as a parking lot, city park, or public gathering place. Allow adequate time to research and reserve a location.
Invite elected officials to participate in an activity during the event.
Sponsor a regional contest and challenge other municipalities to a test of skills necessary to operate a backhoe, garbage pickup, forklift and lawn tractor.
Emphasize safety; highlight the cost-effective measures and unique features of your equipment and vehicles.
Have representatives from various departments show equipment and answer questions.

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Open House or Tour

An open house or tour offers participants a new perspective on public works and gives professionals an opportunity to discuss the daily operation at their facility. It also is a good time to gather community members opinions of public works projects and services.

Thought starters:

Plan the open house in conjunction with a dedication ceremony, an anniversary, or a celebration of a completed project.
Select employees to serve as ambassadors or tour guides.
Provide a forum for citizens to learn about various departments and their functions.
Develop a survey to gather attendees' opinions about a public works project or service of importance to your organization.

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Employee Appreciation Day

Acknowledge the many accomplishments public works employees contribute throughout the year with a special recognition event.

Thought starters:

Sponsor a banquet to recognize outstanding performance, special achievements, safety records and attendance. Award honorees with a gift registration to a seminar, an engraved plaque, a special proclamation or a cash award.
Include family members of honorees.
Invite elected officials.
Hold your event in a public works facility. For example, host a barbecue in an equipment garage.

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Sporting Event

Healthy people are happy people. Promote healthful living by sponsoring a sporting event.

Thought starters:

Plan the route of a race to end at a facility or project you believe deserves attention.
Sponsor a golf tournament and arrange for the proceeds to be dedicated to a public works project, such as the purchase of playground equipment in a community park.
Sponsor a public works night at an organized or professional sporting event. Arrange for a message about public works to be announced during the game.

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Event Enhancers

The following ideas can enhance any event, used alone or in combination.

Slide or Video Presentation

Develop a presentation that visually defines how public works projects maintain, protect and enhance our quality of life.

Thought starters:

    Show before and after photos of projects and facilities.
    Show the presentation in conjunction with a tour, exhibit or event.
    Offer to present the program to community and civic organizations.

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A historical overview of a public works project or service can be a captivating way to draw attention to the impact of public works on a community.

Thought starters:

Design the retrospective as a photographic display, slide show, video, booklet or brochure.
Compare the past with the present - public works projects and services, community standard of living, community beautification and preservation.
Develop a retrospective as part of an anniversary, a rededication, or an open house.

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Special Events & Calendar

Following is an example of a calendar with milestones for an open house and tour of a public works facility.

Two to Three Months Before
  • Select event committee and chairperson.
  • Review budget allocation.
  • Set a date and time; for example, schedule a three-hour open house with tours every 30 minutes.
  • Delegate responsibilities for guest list, refreshments, invitations and open house activities and plan related tasks.

One Month Before
  • Order refreshments.
  • Address and mail invitations.
  • Promote the open house (see Community Outreach section).
  • Inform all employees of open house date and time.
  • Select tour guides and greeters.
  • Purchase name tags for guests, guides and greeters and a good supply of pens.
  • Develop and print survey.

Two Weeks Before
  • Hold an orientation for tour guides and greeters and conduct a walk-through.
  • Confirm refreshments order.
  • Arrange for refreshments table.
  • Obtain a guest book and guest table.
  • Purchase or rent tableware for refreshments.

Day of Open House
  • Pick up or accept delivery of refreshments.
  • Prepare refreshments table.
  • Welcome guests as they enter the facility.
  • Ask guests to wear a name tag and sign guest book.
  • Guests to complete a survey and show them where to turn it in.
  • Attend to guests' needs for information, assistance and refreshments.
  • Conduct tours.

Following Open House
  • Formally thank everyone who contributed to its success.
  • Follow up with persons requesting information.
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  • Meet as a committee to begin planning phase.
  • Review tasks and responsibilities assigned by Planning Committee.
  • Review budget allocation.
  • Select events and activities that are appropriate for the target audience and contribute to at least one objective and goal.
  • Plan your event taking the smallest details into consideration. Make sure each detail is an assigned responsibility.
  • Keep written records of planning and event status to share with the Planning Committee.
  • Give the Planning Committee event information for evaluation purposes when the event is over.


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To Community Outreach

Back to Planning Calendar

Download a sample proclamation here

If you have questions about NPWW or art requests, please contact Dave Dancy via email or call 800-848-2792 ext 5250.