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W.Va. Capitol decorated for state's sesquicentennial

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Sesquicentennial week is here.

Workers on Monday hoisted six blue banners between the columns on the state Capitol's south side. The banners feature the state's sesquicentennial logo, drawings of the Capitol dome and a big birthday cake, along with the big gold numerals "150."

The banners will hang on the Capitol all week, remaining through the 150th birthday celebration this weekend.

Crews also spent Monday afternoon installing projectors for a special 3-D movie about the state's history.

The six-minute film, titled "150 in 3-D, A Century and a Half of West Virginia Pride," will be screened directly onto the Capitol. The banners will be lowered each night for the film and then raised again following the screening.

The production requires nine high-tech projectors, each shining at 26,000 lumens.

For comparison, a standard 60-watt incandescent light bulb produces 800 lumens. The projectors are similar to those used in IMAX theaters, although those films require only two projectors.

The film is set to premiere at 10 p.m. this Thursday, June 20 -- West Virginia Day. Additional screenings will be 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The projectors also will remain in place through this weekend's festivities. Chelsea Ruby, executive director of the West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission, said Capitol police will provide 24-hour security to prevent any thefts or vandalism.

Capitol police also will head up security for the sesquicentennial celebration, but will receive assistance from the State Police, the Charleston Police Department and the Division of Natural Resources.

Coolers are strictly prohibited, Ruby said, and large bags will be subject to searches by security personnel.

She said attendees should plan to bring lawn chairs and blankets.

Ruby said the Sesquicentennial Commission has held meetings with its security team for months as officials planned for the events. The Capitol will remain open throughout the weekend, but its wings will be closed off at night.

Parking will be available on the Capitol campus at metered spots and in the employee parking garage, although Ruby said those spots are expected to fill quickly.

Overflow parking will be available at the Civic Center in downtown Charleston and Laidley Field on the East End. KRT trolleys will provide transportation to and from the Capitol grounds from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

Ruby said there will be 32 portable toilets at the Capitol Complex this weekend, including eight that are handicap accessible. Attendees also will be able to use restrooms inside the Capitol building.

Workers will begin installing tents today to accommodate the artisans, food vendors and state agencies that will set up booths on Saturday.

Ruby said more than 40 craft vendors plan to attend, selling a variety of items including silver flutes, books, paintings and pottery. Food will include fruit cobblers, bratwurst, barbeque, hamburgers, hotdogs, spring rolls, fried fish and more.

"There's really something for everyone," she said.

The state plans to hand out more than 15,000 pieces of birthday cake this weekend at the Culture Center, which also will be open for tours of the state museum.

Plenty of sesquicentennial memorabilia also will be available, including coffee cups, T-shirts, hats, water bottles, key chains and special-edition prints by Charleston artist Charlie Hamilton.

For the philatelists, the U.S. Postal Service will unveil its special West Virginia 150th birthday stamp at a ceremony on Thursday. Appearing at that event will be Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and U.S. Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin.

Postal Service workers will be on hand to offer "first-day cancellations" of the stamps, as proof the stamps were purchased on their release day. The post office also will sell the stamps on Saturday.

Ruby said so far the weather is looking good for this weekend. It likely will be hot, but the chance of rain is only about 10 percent each day.

"It's going to be warm, but we're thankful it's not going to rain," she said.

Taxpayers will contribute about $133,000 to the sesquicentennial events. The full cost will be released after the events have concluded. Costs exceeding the $133,000 mark will come from private sponsors.

Ruby said the sesquicentennial commission also gave $200,000 to communities around the state for their own sesquicentennial celebrations. That money was allocated to the commission by the Legislature.

For more information on this weekend's festivities, visit

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or Follow him at

More sesquicentennial stories

150th birthday celebration straight ahead for WV

Legislature to convene for interim meetings in Wheeling

Birthday bashes scheduled all over W.Va. for state's 150th

State introduces Sesquicentennial ornament


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