Wow. That's about the only word to describe yesterday's celebration of West Virginia's 150 years of statehood. From re-enactors of historic times to a state-of-the-art video, light show and fireworks display, West Virginia did herself proud with this party.
The columns turned to giant candles...but before I get into that, here's the earlier part of the day.
I told stories all day with three other storytellers. Adam Booth actually told stories and participated in the Liar's Contest--and won first place! Mikalena Zuckett portrayed Betty Zane and Fred Powers (not pictured) told stories from his life as a miner. I told stories from West Virginia's history--more on that in a later post.
The front of the capitol was rather quiet in the morning, but that was to change in a few hours. Inside the Culture Center, a giant cake was being cut and served to all. Everything except the food was free, and children and adults all had a good time. Many families planned their reunions around this day, and we met people from Colorado, Alaska, Alabama and many other states, all home to celebrate.
A car show of course--these seem to be part of every festival these days, and certainly attract a crowd.
The balloon cast a giant shadow on a state building, looking for all the world like a giant alien was getting ready to attack. (Thanks, Jason, for making me see it that way!)
The opposite side of the Capitol was serene in the early evening
But on the other side, boats gathered on the Kanawha River and people packed in shoulder to shoulder. We arrived as Ronnie Millsap and his band Lone Star were winding up their show, and anticipation levels for the coming show were high. Everyone was happy and I heard few if any cross words even though it was so hot and humid and we were packed in like sardines. Larry said dubiously once, "Are you sure you want to get into this crowd?" He knew, as did I, that getting out of there was going to be tough, but I was hoping it would be worth the trouble. It was.
The countdown started at 10 minutes. When it got down to 10 seconds, everyone spontaneously began counting down. That was really cool.
And then it started. The Capitol building was the canvas for images of state history that moved in lifelike form across the front.
This one was of the time the Capitol burned in the early 1900's. It was replaced in the 1920's with the magnificent building we have today.
And then the fireworks began!
Near the end everyone sang Country Roads, a song that probably should be our state song.
It was everything I had heard it would be, and more. And yes, getting out of there wasn't easy. We sat for 30 or 40 minutes waiting to get out of the parking garage, but it was worth every minute. After all, I doubt I'll be around for the 200-year anniversary, and I would have been so sad to have missed this big party.
Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.