Find yourself - Living the DreamFinal curtain falls on the 175th Anniversary celebration after eight days of events
Even with high expectations of what the eight-day 175th anniversary celebration should be like, organizers and volunteers marveled as the event surpassed all goals and became possibly one of the greatest celebrations in Washington’s history.
As volunteers worked to take down the decorations from the week’s events, many discussions were had about bringing back several of the events next year. Washington Chamber of Commerce assistant director Dani Kane said that she believed the top events included the Hispanic celebration during On the Move Day, the Ag Day tractor parade and the Tribute Night Saturday.
“We promised to overwhelm the square and I think we succeeded,” Ag Day organizer Jerome Vittetoe said this morning. “I have a list a mile long of people I want to thank.”
He said that the total count of tractors that made up Ag Day was 179. While not all of these ran in the parade — some were displayed on the square and a couple of antique tractors broke down before the parade began — Vittetoe said that the turnout surpassed his goals. He said there has been discussion about holding the tractor parade every year, but no decision has been made. He believes a decision will be made sometime this winter.
A large crowd packed the downtown area for Ridiculous Day, Saturday, even with dark clouds beginning to form in the sky. Hundreds surrounded the fountain as ducks containing prizes were thrown to onlookers.
Due to weather, Tribute Night, which included two bands from out of the area, had to be moved out to the Washington Municipal Airport. Washington Chamber of Commerce director Michelle Redlinger said that the Washington Airport Commission and owner Steve Nebel allowed the use of the airport and hangar for free.
“It was very insane when we were trying to decide about the parade,” she said. “Our sound people did amazing. They had so much of the stage and sound working. People were working at the airport while we were doing Ridiculous Day and taking care of it. That was the way the entire event had gone, with everyone pitching in.”
She said that overall, the 175th celebration had exceeded everyone’s expectations. She said the community support was amazing.
Former Washington band teacher Gary McCurdy organized 40 musicians for the Washington Alumni Concert Band and 24 for the Washington Alumni Jazz Band for concerts on the last day of Washington’s 175th anniversary celebration, Sunday, June 8.
McCurdy said the oldest member of the concert band, Wayne Brock, graduated from Washington High School in 1950. The youngest alumni musicians graduated last month. He told the audience that filled Central Park that there was a span of 60 years on the band shell.
One of the highlights of the concert band was the “world premiere” of music composed by WHS alumnus George Thomas Marie, who graduated in 2001. Marie is working on his doctorate degree in music composition at a university in Utah. The title of his composition is “Solace.”
Both bands delighted the audience. The concert band’s last number was a medley of the original WHS school song and the current WHS song. Many in the audience stood and clapped along with the rousing music.
During the jazz band’s concert, several talented musicians performed solos that won the hearts of the crowd. The crowd also showed its appreciation with a standing ovation at the end of the jazz band concert.
The Ridiculous Day parade was postponed to Sunday at 4 p.m. because of rainy conditions Saturday afternoon.
There were five judges judging the parade floats. Some of the items the floats were judged on included overall theme, using 175 somewhere on the float, and costume design.
First place went to the Wehr family. They decorated their float with the theme “Wehr Honey Farm.” Participants were dressed up as beekeepers and the float had honeybees and flowers on it.
Second place went to Crooked Creek Christian Camp. On the float were Crooked Creek Christian Campers who were cooking over a campfire on the back of the float, and a canoe was pulled behind.
Camp REECE placed third, which also had a campfire theme.
The Wehr family was presented with the traveling trophy. They will have to add something to the trophy and hand it off to the next first prize winner next summer.
After the parade ended, people were treated to cake and ice cream in Central Park. John Kessell and Friends band treated everyone in the park to music.
A little after 6 p.m. the closing ceremony for the 175th Anniversary Celebration was held. Washington Mayor Sandra Johnson thanked everyone for making this a great celebration. She also said it is the residents of Washington who make the town so great.
Kane said that her concern that there would not be enough volunteers for Tribute Night turned out to be incorrect. She said that when help was needed, people would come from the crowd to help
“We had to have thousands of volunteers to make this work,” she said.