City officials excited about Naberhood’s future

New logo unveiled as Shawano looks at how to utilize downtown plaza to the max
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

The new plaza in downtown Shawano has a name that’s familiar to longtime residents, but for those who might be visiting the community, there might be some questions about why the city is calling it the Naberhood.

However, those questions will probably go on the back burner when they see how busy the Naberhood will be during the summer months.

To understand the Naberhood moniker, one must delve into Shawano’s past. Prominent resident Franklin Naber was responsible for platting three subdivisions in the city. One is the building that currently houses Dreier’s Pharmacy, while another is the Little Rapids Paper Mill just across the Wolf River. The third building is the one in the 200 block of South Main Street that was torn down so the plaza could be built, and before the building fell into disrepair, it was home to Senzig’s Furniture, which now dwells on the east side of the city.

The new logo features a basic outline of the building that was demolished, with “The Naberhood” beneath it, and includes a curving glyph under the N that represents the Wolf River, since Shawano claims to be the “City on the Wolf.” The N and the A both were designed to simulate the archways of the Naber building itself.

“When we were looking at the logo itself, we wanted to make sure we were not only encompassing the building that once stood there that was a historical component to our downtown community but also making sure we were staying in tune with the things that carry through into our current city logo, like water and things of that nature,” said Lesley Nemetz, Shawano’s community relations manager.

The city worked with a graphic designer in the area, Andy Graf, and Nemetz, along with City Administrator Eddie Sheppard, Business Improvement District coordinator Lindsay Johnson and parks director Matt Hendricks, collaborated to try and make the logo as representative of Shawano’s downtown as possible.

“We’re really excited, because we think it looks amazing,” Nemetz said. “He really took into account all of the things that we discussed that were really important to us.”

The city has already announced block parties coming to roost at the Naberhood, but city officials are hoping those parties will just be the start of continuous activity at the plaza not only during the summer months, but year-round, too.

“One of the nice things about the name ‘The Naberhood’ is there are so many things we can play off of it,” Nemetz said. “The Naberhood block party … was an easy name to come up with. We’re excited about the opportunities of a lot of different events, and the community is really backing these.”

Hendricks noted that Franklin Park quickly became a community destination after it was created. Besides being the new home for the FRESH Project Farmers Market, the park also hums during the warmer periods with the Thursdayz at Franklin concert series, occasional weddings and more.

“The expectation is not that the city is going to be doing all the programming out there, but we do have a role in it,” Hendricks said. “We’re hoping that the Naberhood is going to be similar.”

The block parties on Saturdays will consist of small-stage bands, according to Hendricks, as a way to keep people in the downtown area on weekends. With the farmers market wrapping up around noon, the block parties can make downtown activities an all-day affair.

“Saturdays are becoming more lively in the downtown area, so we asked ourselves, how do we complement that?” Hendricks said. “Having music in the afternoon seemed appropriate.”

The block parties on Tuesday nights will focus more on family-friendly events, and Hendricks noted that the Shawano County Library will be playing a role in some of those activities. The city has also reached out to the local tribes to perform cultural dances and other activities. The NEW Zoo in Suamico could be bringing a mobile petting zoo to the plaza at some point during the summer, although specific event dates have not been nailed down yet.

A long-term goal for the city is to see some form of activity take place in the Naberhood almost every day. Hendricks doesn’t believe it’ll happen in the first year, but he hopes it’ll happen sooner rather than later.

“There seems to be excitement for social gathering spaces and getting people together, and our community eats that up,” Hendricks said. “Every community is sociable, but Shawano, maybe because of the tourism feel and the lakes and bringing people to down, there’s a desire to connect people there. What’s important is that the Naberhood is a unique niche and not a replication of something else.”