Washington’s 175th anniversary gala event Saturday night bodes well for the rest of the celebrations during 2014. Another way of putting it is that the opening event was such a success in spirit that anticipation should build for what’s next in observing the founding of the city.
The Knights of Columbus Hall was decorated to make the large auditorium inviting. With a crowd of around 500 people, it wasn’t too tight with multi-aged humans to make comfort a missing element. The food was tasteful. Speeches were held to reasonable lengths. The music was a bit too loud for the people who wanted to hold conversations and they departed early. Those attendees who liked the music for dancing hung around and enjoyed the vibes.
Somewhat of a rarity was having four former mayors present, along with, of course, Mayor Sandy Lucy. Present were former mayors Dick Hirschl, Bernie Hillermann, Walt Larson and Dick Stratman.
Co-chairs of the anniversary year events are Nadine Feltmann and Joe Schneider. They head a committee that is wise from experience in civic and other undertakings, and are the type of volunteers who know how to roll up their sleeves and perform whatever tasks are necessary. There are 17 members. That’s not too large. There is work for each member.
Ahead on Saturday, May 24, are two 175th anniversary events — a parade and picnic at Lions Lake. That’s Memorial Day weekend. Sunday, May 25, the dedication of the Owens Monument in Krog Park is planned. For late Washington comers, Lucinda Owens was the foundress of Washington in 1839. Jump to Oct. 5 and there will be an invitational antique vehicle display along Front Street.
The annual Memorial Day program will be held Monday, May 26. Is there any way that event can be incorporated into the anniversary celebration?
While Washington will be observing its 175th birthday, Big City to the east, St. Louis, is observing its 250th founding. We know there were people in what now is Washington before 1839. If St. Louis was founded 250 years ago, why did it take 75 years for some of the people there to discover the land which became Washington? Now, we realize transportation wasn’t what it is today, and the Missouri River was the main route here in those pioneer days, but 75 years seems like a long time to go by in establishing Washington. Our local historians may be able to fill in the gaps about that matter.
We know there were early explorers, even hunters, in this area by 1800 and even before. Lewis and Clark paddled by here in 1805-06.
One of the significant and very worthwhile projects that emerged from the 150th anniversary was the beginning of the partnership with our Sister City, Marbach am Neckar, Germany. The idea for the partnership was born during a meeting of the 150th anniversary committee. That project, educationally and culturally, has been a huge success.
Is there something that should be done this year that would be as significant as the Sister City project is? Something to think about. There’s still time.