July 19-21 will mark the celebration of Plain City’s Bicentennial, our 200th birthday.
This seems like a good time to look back on our last big celebration, which took place July 4-7, 1968, our 150th anniversary.
The Advocate issue for July 3 (the paper was published on Wednesdays then) was almost entirely given over to the planned celebrations and to historical articles and photographs. (A society column did record the wedding of Miss Kathy Kile and Mr. John Benjamin Cosgray on June 16. The couple, stalwarts in the Plain City Historical Society, have just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.)
Front and center on the front page was a letter from President Lyndon Johnson, with a proclamation from Mayor Virgil Minthorn below it. A letter of congratulations from Congressman Chalmers P. Wylie also appeared in the issue. Nearly every advertisement mentioned the occasion, and many businesses offered special sales.
The four-day event featured parades every day, an historical pageant presented Saturday and Sunday evenings (with a cast of over 400), three evenings of fireworks, a midway and carnival, a museum, a beard-growing contest, a daily kangaroo court, a mailbox-decorating contest and much more.
On Thursday, July 4, the opening ceremonies began at 11:30 a.m. At noon the first of the daily parades started, and the Sesqui Queen was crowned. She was Miss Donna Davis, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Davis of Route 1 of Plain City. After the parade there was a horseshoe pitching contest, pony races and ball games. The evening festivities began with a chicken barbecue, followed by a talent show, a square dance and a rock-and-roll dance and fireworks at 10 p.m.
Friday, July 5 featured ball games, an ice cream social and fish fry. The parade was at 1 p.m. and there was more horseshoe pitching, a flea market, ball games and the midway and carnival. The official ceremonies took place at 7 p.m., followed by a street dance, a square dance and a rock-and-roll dance.
Saturday morning began with an all-Palomino horse show. The daily parade stepped off at 1 p.m., followed by a flea market, a chicken barbecue, dances, and at 9 p.m. the pageant “Upon These Plains,” narrated by Tom George. Fireworks ended the evening at 10:30.
Sunday opened with a community church service at the grandstand. The paper reported that a “combined choir from participating churches will sing ‘America the Beautiful’ and the ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ under the direction of Mrs. Roger Cary and Mrs. Victor Humm.” The ladies were the choir directors of the Presbyterian and Methodist churches respectively.
At 11:30 a.m., there was a community picnic and potluck, and the “Major Parade” began at 1 p.m. In the evening there was a band concert and encore performance of “Upon These Plains.” The celebration closed with a fireworks finale.
Along the way, we were visited by Congressman Wylie, Congressman Clarence J. Brown Jr. and Governor James Rhodes, not to mention Jonathan Alder (played by Lloyd Warner) and Abraham Lincoln (or Howard Foust).
A brief paperback history of Plain City was prepared by a committee consisting of Robert N. Converse, Mrs. Rowena Tedrick, Mrs. Maxine White, Mrs. Bess Reiselt and Miss Louise Schierer. It was the only published history of our town until the Historical Society’s “Moments in Time” was published last December.
Please plan to join us on July 19-21 for our 200th birthday party. The Historical Society will be offering guided walking tours of the uptown area on Thursday afternoon, and we have a wide selection of Plain City souvenirs in our gift shop at 111 W. Main St., Plain City.
Rosemary Anderson is the vice president of the Plain City Historical Society.