CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In 1863, Abe Lincoln gave the call, and the 35th star was on our flag and would soon outshine them all.
One hundred fifty years after the event marked by that tune popularly associated with the birth of West Virginia, the Mountain State plans to celebrate its sesquicentennial by bringing history to life.
"This June, West Virginians from every corner of the state will be filled with pride as we celebrate the state's birthday," Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said during a press conference on the Capitol steps Thursday.
"I've heard a lot of West Virginians share their stories about our centennial, and people remember getting together around an old black-and-white TV in their living rooms; others remember standing on the Capitol steps waiting for President Kennedy to speak. It was a rainy day, and people remember standing on their toes to see over all the umbrellas.
"Every story I've heard has one thing in common -- and that is state pride. It was a day that made all of us proud to be West Virginians. And this June, we get to do it all again."
The celebration, organized by the West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission, will begin on the state's official birthday, Thursday, June 20, and conclude Sunday, June 23.
Tomblin will kick off the statewide birthday celebration with a bell ringing at 1:50 p.m. on June 20, as part of a ceremony to celebrate the state's last 150 years. Later that evening, the Appalachian Children's Chorus and the West Virginia Symphony will perform on the Capitol lawn. The evening will be capped off with a 3-D film that will be projected directly onto the face of the statehouse.
"The technology to make 3-D building projects is new -- something we've never done in West Virginia," Tomblin said. "These shows have been in the Queen's Jubilee in London and New Year's Eve in New York City."
The 3-D films are custom-crafted for projection onto the surfaces of iconic landmarks without a screen, according to a release.
Thursday will end with a Zambelli fireworks show launched from the roof of the Capitol. Friday will host similar festivities.
The birthday celebration will continue throughout the weekend, with the commission partnering with FestivALL to host a parade that will end at the Capitol building on Saturday. Free sternwheeler rides, outdoor concerts, a vintage car show, the Smoke on the Water chili Cook-Off, elements of the Vandalia Gathering, history lectures, Civil War re-enactors, and West Virginia food and craft vendors will be spread across the Capitol grounds.
A giant birthday cake for everyone to enjoy will also be available. The evening will end with another 3-D film and fireworks show.
Jama Jarrett, the vice president for operations and communications with the Charleston West Virginia Convention & Visitors Bureau, is pleased to see the culmination of two events.
"With FestivALL already taking place, it's the perfect opportunity for Charleston to showcase all the great things that Charleston has; we're able to bring in a piece of West Virginia's history into an already existing event. We're excited to be showing off the city," Jarrett said.
FestivALL is a 10-day arts and entertainment festival that will be held June 21 to 30 and will contain 130 events and 360 performances. FestivALL is partnering with the Sesquicentennial Commission to host some of the birthday events.
"This is something you won't want to miss and something you won't forget," Tomblin said.
The events planned at the Capitol will be funded by both public and private funds. The Sesquicentennial Commission has been appropriated $133,000 from the Legislature. As costs are still being finalized, private funds for the celebration will be released after the event, said Chelsea Ruby, executive director for the WV Sesquicentennial Commission.
For more information, visit www.wv150.com
The schedule of events is listed below. For more information, visit www.wv150.com
Thursday, June 20, 2013