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Archive for Thursday, September 10, 2009

City’s 1954 centennial pageant inspires new vision

High hopes for ‘the Point’ as state nears its 150th year

A pair horses pull this group down Mass. St. in the centennial parade in 1954. Hank Brown is playing the trumpet and Byrona Wiley and Melba Still are dressed as Keystone Kops.

A pair horses pull this group down Mass. St. in the centennial parade in 1954. Hank Brown is playing the trumpet and Byrona Wiley and Melba Still are dressed as Keystone Kops.

September 10, 2009

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State starts planning birthday party

It's never too early to start birthday party planning -- especially when it's the state's 150th anniversary. Enlarge video

Clenece Hills can picture the type of party that the community could throw atop Sesquicentennial Point to celebrate the state’s 150th birthday in 2011.

There would be cowboys, Indians, buffaloes, cattle and a whole cast of other performers participating in an outdoor theatrical production detailing the early history of the area.

She even has a name for it: Pageant at the Point.

“All during Lawrence’s sesquicentennial, it seems every place I went to make a speech, there was somebody asking why we couldn’t resurrect the wonderful pageant the city had back in 1954 to celebrate its centennial,” said Hills, a semiretired public school teacher.

In 1954, Hills said, the community had a pageant at Haskell Stadium that allowed the crowd to watch the first 100 years of the city unfold on an outdoor stage.

The script still exists in archives at Kansas University, and Hills figures it wouldn’t be that hard to add another 50-some years to the production to bring it up to current day. Or, perhaps, if the community wants to get really ambitious, a new script could be written about Kansas’ first 150 years.

“I really don’t have any preconceived notion,” said Hills, who said the event likely couldn’t be on the actual Kansas Day, since Jan. 29 is not very conducive to outdoor events. “I’m just trying to stir things up.”

Hills will be host to a meeting at 3 p.m. on Sept. 24 at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt., to brainstorm ways to celebrate the state’s 150th anniversary in 2011.

Whatever ideas come out of the meeting, Hills hopes Sesquicentennial Point — about 90 acres of hilltop ground northeast of the Clinton Lake Dam — is a focal point of the celebration. Hills, as a past president of the Lawrence Sesquicentennial Commission, helped raise about $300,000 for the park, which opened to commemorate Lawrence’s 150th birthday in 2004.

The original fundraising allowed for a road to be built on the property, for a small plaza area to be constructed and for a stone walkway highlighting each of Lawrence’s first 150 years to be installed.

The site provides a view of Clinton Lake, the Wakarusa Valley, and if you hike high enough, a glimpse of the Kaw Valley as well.

But the park is lacking bathrooms, electricity and any significant parking. The master plan for the area also calls for an amphitheater — a covered stage with the adjacent hillside shaped in such a way to accommodate perhaps up to 5,000 people.

“Right now, those are just wishful plans,” said Ernie Shaw, director of the city’s parks and recreation department.

The city doesn’t have the money to devote to upgrades at the park, but Hills hopes a major event at the site would renew enthusiasm for private fundraising. Estimates for how much money is needed to complete the park are not up to date. But Shaw said estimates of several years ago placed the figure between $1 million and $1.5 million.

“I’m certainly not naive about the challenge,” Hills said. “I don’t think we can do it all with just individual donations. I think we’re at the point where if the point is ever to be truly finished, we’re going to have to get some corporate support.”

Shaw said it remains to be seen how much can be done before 2011, and how large of an event the point could handle. But he said his department is supportive of drumming up interest for the area.

“We still have a lot of people who ask us where the point is at,” Shaw said. “I think anything that gives people an idea of how beautiful it is out there would be great.”

Comments

blindrabbit 5 years, 3 months ago

I attended both the 1954 and 2004 events. The 1954 Lawrence Centennial event was very well planned and coordinated; and lasted throughout the summer. That cannot be said for the 2004 Lawrence Sesquicentennial which I thought was a bust at best. Comparing the two events is a hoax. The 2004 ill-contrived parade was attended by some slimy characters such as Phill Klein and Kobach, and a few thrown together mobile units and bands. I was embarrased to attend. What I think was unfortunate was that the organizers thought it was great.

My guess, a "State" event would be even worse.

handley 5 years, 3 months ago

Comment was made people ask where the point was at. one little sign that only a few people see. It need's highway signs so that visitors coming to Lawrence can find it.

blindrabbit 5 years, 3 months ago

Further comments about the 2004 event and how the outcome of those planning sessions would affect a Lawrence (State) 150 celebration. I attended some of the 2004 planning sessions held at the Public Library and submitted a list of items/events that I thought were well thought out, in-part based on the 1954 event (which I had attended and participated in). It soon became apparent that the planning sessions were in reality a forum to rubber stamp a series of events that had already been decided; there seemed to be little or no interest i any ideas coming from the audience. The 1954 ideas as well as others were rather quickly brushed-off and substituted with what became the 2004 event. If you feel that we got a worthy event in 2004, I suggest you consider my comments invalid.

As occurs in other communities, the history of a particular area soon becomes or falls under the ownership of group of individuals who assume that ownership; leaving the rest of the community to abdicate. This is certaintly true in the Lawrence community, as "informed" individuals" and groups (names purposely ommited) have assumed that role, as they have access to the "deciders".To gain an appreciation of this, I suggest you visit the Watkins City Museum; an example of how poorly a historical institution has become,

If the proposed State event were to occur, I suggest that the "planning" session that is indicated for later September (this year) be in-fact open for true public comment and not a continuation of what occurred in 2004.; unless you were satisfied with the 2004 event.

blindrabbit 5 years, 3 months ago

Further comments about the 2004 event and how the outcome of those planning sessions would affect a Lawrence (State) 150th celebration. I attended some of the 2004 planning sessions held at the Public Library and submitted a list of items/events that I thought were well thought out, in-part based on the 1954 event (which I had attended and participated in). It soon became apparent that the planning sessions were in reality a forum to rubber stamp a series of events that had already been decided; there seemed to be little or no interest i any ideas coming from the audience. The 1954 ideas as well as others were rather quickly brushed-off and substituted with what became the 2004 event. If you feel that we got a worthy event in 2004, I suggest you consider my comments invalid.

As occurs in other communities I've lived in, the history of a particular area soon becomes or falls under the ownership of group of individuals who assume that ownership; leaving the rest of the community to abdicate. This is certaintly true in the Lawrence community, as "informed" individuals" and groups (names purposely ommited) have assumed that role, as they have access to the "deciders".To gain an appreciation of this, I suggest you visit the Watkins City Museum; an example of how poorly a historical institution has become, or review the 2004 event.

If the proposed State event were to occur, I suggest that the "planning" session that is indicated for later September (this year) be in-fact open for true public comment and not a continuation of what occurred in 2004.; unless you were satisfied with the 2004 event.

Kansas_Supporter 5 years, 3 months ago

I am surprised by the level of blindrabbit's disappointment in the 2004 event and saddened by the harshness of the comments.

Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the Summer of 2004, and found more activity options availabe than I had time to take pleasure in. One event in particular, the chautauqua, was both outstanding entertainment and exceptionally informative.

Recognizing that ideas can be diverse and not necessarily compatible, it is not surprise that not all suggestions make their way into such a celebration. However, it obvious that blindrabbit has a strong interest in this area and perceptible expertise. I encourage his/her continued involvement and participation to make the upcoming events even better.

Everyone involved with the 2004 event should be complimented for the outcome, and thanked for their unselfish donations of treasury, talent and especially time.

George_Braziller 5 years, 3 months ago

Not having Clenece Hills involved in the process would be the first step to make sure the event is a success. She already knows what "she" wants so any other input isn't really welcomed and will be ignored.

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