Towanda's Sesquicentennial Celebration by Linda Potts and Gail Ann Briggs July 2004 Planning for Towandas Sesquicentennial began early in 2004. A committee was formed to plan and coordinate the activities in conjunction with Towandas Annual 4th of July Celebration. The bandstand, which sits in the middle of North Park, had been damaged in an ice storm in 1936. The destroyed roof was never repaired and consequently the facility had become something of an eyesore instead of an attraction. To mark the Sesquicentennial, the Village Board decided to restore the bandstand. Using pictures of the original bandstand and the help of a local contractor, plans were drawn up and the work began. Several "work weekends" and hundreds of volunteer hours were needed to complete the project. Designed to replicate the original bandstand, metal columns were set to support the new roof and cupola. New concrete steps replaced the original deteriorated steps; the old iron railing was replaced with a redesigned railing that met current safety codes. Finally, the whole bandstand received a fresh coat of paint from brick base to cupola. A local artist designed and painted a sign which was placed in front of the bandstand and flowers were planted around the base. To finance the project the Sesquicentennial Committee held a chicken dinner and sold custom-designed T-shirt with the Sesquicentennial Logo that featured the renovated bandstand. The Towanda Busy Bees 4-H Club designed and constructed Sesquicentennial banners that hung on street light poles around the park. Specially designed ballpoint pens, were donated by a local business, Alexander Manufacturing, for distribution during the Celebration. A display of historical memorabilia set up at the Community Building with many long-time current and former residents loaning artifacts, documents and scrapbooks. The Sesquicentennial and Annual 4th of July Celebration weekend events were kicked off on Friday, July 2. Residents, families and friends gathered at the Community Building to view the historical items, while a strolling Barber Shop Quartet entertained the crowd in the park. The Towanda District Fire Department donated and served cake and ice cream for the event. "Olde Tyme" childrens games were organized by the Towanda 4-H Club. The evening was capped off with the Dedication of the bandstand and a ribbon cutting ceremony. The annual 4th of July weekend activities included: Home Extensions spaghetti supper at the Community Building; a Pet Contest; the Little Miss and Little Master crowning; and the street dance with music provided by a local band, ,,The Spectors on the night of the 3rd. On the 4th more than 200 flea market venders sold their wares to a crowd estimated at more than 6,000. The parade stepped off at 10:00 with more than 200 entries. A special feature was a parade-within-the-parade with participants of the 1954 Centennial Parade riding and performing. Another highlight was the Fifty American Flags unit with local youth and adults carrying our nations symbol. The weekend finale included games at the school and a spectacular fireworks display at dusk.
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Although the 4th of July Celebration in Towanda is an annual event, 2004 marked a very special year. Dozens of volunteers donated hundreds of hours to make Towandas Sesquicentennial a memorable event and now there is a beautiful bandstand welcoming visitors and residents alike to the North Park.
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Illinois State University, Milner Library, Normal, IL, 61790 - for the Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
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