Grants provide funding for Athens Bicentennial Bash

By: Holly Hollman
Planning a 200th birthday party takes more than a few party hats and a cake.

The City of Athens is developing plans to recreate Trade Day on The Square to celebrate its 200 years of history. The Athens Bicentennial Bash will be Nov. 17, 2018, on The Square. Athens turns 200 before the State of Alabama celebrates its bicentennial in 2019.

For the city’s party, Limestone County Archivist Rebekah Davis had the idea of recreating Trade Day, when people flocked to downtown for a drawing to win a vehicle. There is a historic photograph of the event that shows mainly men in hats filling the streets of downtown.

“The plan is to recreate the photo with men, women and children and give away a vehicle to reenact a part of our history,” said Athens Bicentennial Bash Committee Chair Holly Hollman.

The bash will be in conjunction with Christmas Open House. The Athens High School Choir has agreed to sing “Happy Birthday” to the city, and Mayor Ronnie Marks has asked the committee to provide 200 cupcakes in lieu of one large birthday cake. The committee is working on other activities as well.

Sen. Arthur Orr with the Alabama Bicentennial Commission recently presented the City of Athens with a $2,500 grant to fund marketing and celebrating the Athens Bicentennial Bash. Rep. Danny Crawford added a $1,000 community grant toward the event.

“The City of Athens appreciates the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, Sen. Orr, and Rep. Crawford recognizing that by celebrating the history of Athens, we are also celebrating the state’s history and our city’s role in that history,” Hollman said.

In addition to Davis, Hollman has asked the Limestone County Bicentennial Committee Chairs, Tourism Director Teresa Todd, and Limestone County Communications Coordinator Michelle Williamson, to assist in the planning process. She has also asked Trisha Black, who volunteers on the Athens Arts League Board, and Leah Beth McNutt, who works with the Athens-Limestone Hospital Foundation, to assist.

The Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission will participate, and their input helps to encourage youth to engage in learning about their city’s history. Some Youth Commissioners have already created videos highlighting aspects of the city as part of the bicentennial celebration.
By: Holly Hollman