The city of Athens in Limestone County officially turns 200 on Monday, Nov. 19, but the party will be held Saturday, Nov. 17, during Christmas Open House weekend.
“The response from the community has been overwhelming,” said Athens Bicentennial Bash Committee Chair Holly Hollman. “We have a day of events planned from a historic scavenger hunt to a joint kick-off ceremony with party goers from across the pond.”
Athens is collaborating with Stonehaven, Scotland, to be Sister Cities. Athens State University Religious Studies Professor Debra Baird is overseeing the Sister City project with Phil Mills-Bishop, who leads the Stonehaven Twinning Group, and Richard Holman-Baird, chieftain to Clan Baird and co-chair of the twinning group.
“They want to help us celebrate and are hosting a 200th birthday party for Athens at Castle Fraser,” Hollman said. “They plan to fly the American and Alabama flags from the castle turrets along with the Scottish flags, and castle staff are preparing a birthday cake to be cut as our Scottish friends sing ‘Happy Birthday.’”
The Athens celebration will be viewed on a screen at the Scotland celebration.
A ceremony kicks off the celebration at noon on the courthouse steps on Marion Street. The Boy Scouts will present the colors, Girl Scout Johana Slinkard will sing the national anthem, and the Athens High School Marching Band will play a medley of songs by Athens natives along with “Happy Birthday.”
Other events include Trade Days where a car will be given away. An art exhibit is also planned, featuring:
- “Southern Autumn,” an Alabama 1989 Reunion authorized and numbered print that is for sale.
- Limestone County bicentennial clay vase and City of Athens bicentennial clay platter, both for sale and handmade by Emily Cole. The artist will not produce any more, so these are one-of-a-kind pieces.
- Bicentennial quilts made by the Friendship Quilters Guild to represent iconic and historic places in Athens and Limestone County.
- Framed French-themed wallpaper uncovered during the renovation of the 1938 Scout House. These are for sale.
- A United States bicentennial quilt made by the second-grade class of Julian Newman Elementary in 1976. The quilt was found by the mother-in-law of Roy Patton’s sister in a consignment shop in Nashville. She saw Patton’s name, got the quilt and gave it to him.
- Athens City Schools student artwork that captures the people and places of our community, including Whitt’s, Dub’s Burgers, the Courthouse, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, musician Anderson East and Gary Redus, a former professional baseball player.
- A stained-glass piece with symbols for Athens, Limestone County and Alabama.
Artist Jane Blevins created an oil on canvas with a stunning sunset over open land. She named it “The Beginning.”
“It represents the open horizons Athens and Limestone County founders saw when they came here, as well as the foresight they had to foresee what the future could hold on this vast openness,” she said.
Athens Bicentennial Bash Events Nov. 17, 2018
10 a.m. – Athens High School Historic Scavenger Hunt. Meet at the bicentennial mural students created on Market Street down from Wildwood Deli. You will receive clues as to your historic destinations from students who will be set up at the various sites.
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. – The celebration will feature a display of quilts in the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church on Jefferson. Baked goods and handcrafted items will be available in the Rogers Center. A special display of vintage quilts will be featured from local Athens quilters.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Houston Memorial Library Open House. See the recent renovations to Gov. Houston’s home and learn about restoration efforts.
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Enter the Athens Trivia Contest for the Dealers Auto Auction Car; the first 200 who register will receive bicentennial shopping totes sponsored by WOW! Get trivia tidbits ahead of time by following “City of Athens, Alabama, Bicentennial” on Facebook.
Noon – Kickoff ceremonies with the Boy Scouts, national anthem by Johana Slinkard, and a performance by the Athens High School Marching Band.
1 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Donnell House Festival of Trees ($5 fee). See decorated trees placed throughout this historic home.
1:30 p.m. – Best Beard for Men and Best Hat for Ladies Contest hosted by the Friends of the Limestone County Archives. The winner in each category will receive $100.
2 p.m. – Trade Day photo on Marion Street.
3 p.m. – Athens Trivia Contest for the Dealers Auto Auction car. Five tickets will be drawn. Must be present to compete and win the car.
3 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Art As Our Narrative bicentennial exhibit reception at High Cotton Arts. Kay Burlingame will serve as host in period dress and provide light refreshments.
All day – Throughout the day enjoy the Greater Limestone County Chamber’s Christmas Open House festivities such as carolers, the skating rink on Marion Street, Santa Claus photos, Merry Market and bicentennial vendors, the Lions Club Christmas Train, and a nighttime light show at the courthouse. Also, check out the bicentennial themed Christmas windows decorated by downtown merchants.