Madison enters double-decker party with city and state’s anniversaries
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOSHUA BERRY
The gears of time will click in synchronization during 2019, as the City of Madison turns 150 years old and the State of Alabama reaches its 200th anniversary.
One year ago in January 2018, the Madison150AL200 volunteer group began planning activities for each month in 2019 for Madison’s sesquicentennial and Alabama’s bicentennial. Mayor Paul Finley appointed Debbie Overcash and John Rankin to co-chair the Madison Bicentennial Committee, as requested by Julian Butler, coordinator of the Madison County AL 200 Committee.
“We’re extremely grateful to Mayor Finley, the city council, Gayle Milam, Samantha Magnuson and the public works, police and fire departments for their encouragement and support as this committee prepares to celebrate Madison in 2019,” Overcash said. “The committee hopes we successfully bring citizens the opportunity to know their hometown, community at large and state more intimately … to grasp all she has to offer, to take advantage of opportunities ‘in our own back yard’ and to take great pride in being from Madison.”
Rankin said the sesquicentennial celebration commemorates the city’s incorporation, not its actual birth. “The city was founded in 1857, but its incorporation did not occur until 1869. Madison is one of the very few early Madison County communities that survived and prospered through the years, while many others disappeared as ‘ghost towns,'” he said. “I am reminded of the old saying, ‘Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’ However, that is to me an unappealing and ominous thought associated with gloom and doom seen in failures of the past. Rather, I choose to focus my love of history on learning of the great things done by people of the past.”
To launch Madison’s sesquicentennial, the first official event was the Christmas Tour of Homes Dec. 1. Sponsored by Madison Station Historical Preservation Society, the tour showcased five houses in Christmas finery in Madison Station Historic District.
JANUARY: In January 2019, organizers will conduct the first service rally for Madison150AL200. Madison Public Library will exhibit a historical display of local interest, and at Connect 2019, Finley will deliver his State of the City address.
FEBRUARY: February will include the Black History Month Film Festival. Madison Senior Center members will enjoy a Mardi Gras party, and at an Arbor Day workshop, participants will plant a Heritage Tree and receive 150 tree saplings.
MARCH: Madison Author Book Market will be held in March. For children, The Downtown Kids will perform.
APRIL: During April, visitors can experience Taste of Madison, featuring Alabama’s State Fruit, the blueberry. Walking tours will explore downtown streets, with a guide describing the properties. Madison’s librarians will exhibit historical material during National Library Week, and athletes can try to Conquer the Hill 5K and 10K.
MAY: In May, historical re-enactors will animate the past with Memorial Day Remembrance on the Village Green. Nature lovers will learn about horticulture in a tour of Madison gardens. Madison City Schools will host an outdoor classroom tour, followed by a reception at Madison Public Library.
JUNE: Vendors at Madison City Farmers Market will present the Good Old Days program in June. A scavenger hunt of Madison historical markers will test participants, and the library will host its annual Read Around the Block party.
JULY: Another Madison150AL200 service rally will occur in July. Additionally, Dublin Park will host the Fourth of July celebration; Madison City Community Orchestra will perform its Apollo Mission Concert; and the Madison Chamber of Commerce will conduct the annual Business Expo and Kids’ Day.
AUGUST: In August, questions related to Madison150AL200 will test competitors in “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?”
SEPTEMBER: Residents can tour Madison’s historic cemeteries and rally for James Clemens and Bob Jones high schools’ homecoming parades.
OCTOBER: In October, Madison Street Festival will recognize the sesquicentennial/bicentennial. The second annual Volksmarch Madison will invite people to stroll downtown streets.
NOVEMBER: During November, a military re-enactment and prayer breakfast will honor Madison’s veterans. Rocket Republic will host Madison150AL200 Trivia Night.
DECEMBER: In December 2019, the Kris Kringle Market will offer nuances of Christmas past. Christmas Card Lane and Madison Christmas Parade with return, and Madison150AL200 volunteers will unveil their signature event, “Christmas Capers.”
As a finale, in January 2020, Madison Hospital will feature Sesquicentennial Babies of 2019m and Madison150AL200 organizers will offer a commemorative quilt.
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