Clenece Hills hopes the focus of Lawrence's 150th birthday celebration is as much on the year 2054 as the year 1854.
As the city pauses to remember its history this year, Hills, who chairs the city's Sesquicentennial Commission, wants to leave a legacy for generations to come.
"I hope it'll be something people say, 50 years from now, 'I remember that summer,'" Hills said. "I hope there's some piece of all of these things that stands out to them."
There will be plenty of events to choose from in the next five months for those wanting to celebrate history. The list includes official Sesquicentennial Commission events, events organized by community organizations and the Bleeding Kansas Chautauqua, organized by the Kansas Humanities Council.
"I think there will be something for everyone from parades to lectures, from re-dedications to mementos, from reminiscences to educational programs," said Paul Stuewe, a Lawrence High School history teacher and member of the Sesquicentennial Commission. "Not everyone will choose to celebrate our past in the same way because interests vary, but I think everyone will find more than one thing that catches their interest and from my experience I think the events will be well attended."
Stuewe is leading a group of students who have constructed a new display case for one of the oldest artifacts from early-day Lawrence. A 1,600-pound bell, originally hoisted atop the Unitarian Church in 1858, has been on display at LHS since 1961.
But the LHS class of 2004 has constructed a case near the front of the school, complete with information on the history of the bell and Lawrence. It is set to be dedicated May 9.
A look at the other community-based events funded with Sesquicentennial Commission grants shows the various ways Lawrence will celebrate its birthday. They include the completion of murals at the Lawrence Public Library and Municipal Stadium, a tour of historic Lawrence trees and a children's activity book on Lawrence.
The first set of major events will be June 24-29, when the Bleeding Kansas Chautauqua rolls into town. Lawrence is one of four cities that will feature the event, which centers on evening tent performances by scholars portraying historical figures.
"It's kind of like a little mini-festival," said Judy Billings, director of the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Events include activities for children, breakfast with the scholars, film screenings and music. Billings said she's expecting the weekend to be hot for tourism, since the chautauqua already has received publicity in regional travel magazines.
The major sesquicentennial events will be the weekend of Sept. 18, which is officially the 150th anniversary of Lawrence's founding.
A large-scale parade will kick off downtown at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 18. It will end at South Park, where there will be a festival with games, food vendors, music and booths.
That evening will be a dinner and dance commemorating Lawrence sister city agreements with Eutin, Germany, and Hiratsuka, Japan. There will be a dance at South Park from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. that night.
The next day will feature a 3 p.m. event to dedicate Sesquicentennial Point, the plaza planned near Clinton Lake designed to serve as a gift to the city, similar to the purpose served by Centennial Park 50 years ago. The plaza, on city-leased land, could someday have an amphitheater nearby.
Hills said she hoped the events would appeal to children who might still be living in Lawrence for the city's bicentennial.
"Events like this are so people can make memories," Hills said. "That's why we're doing it."
|To learn more about the plans for Lawrence's sesquicentennial and see a list of events, go to www.lawrence150.org/calendar|