Mayor Harris names 125th Celebration Committee

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ROANOKE, VA – A dynamic mix of historic reflection, cultural recognition and celebration will be in store for Roanoke in 2007 as the city celebrates its 125th anniversary. It may be just Spring 2006 right now, but the city already is preparing for the year-long event.

Mayor C. Nelson Harris announced plans for the 125th anniversary during a news conference today (Wednesday, March 22). He also introduced the co-chairs and members of the Celebration Committee, a group of citizens who live in or have close ties to Roanoke, and who have been tasked with helping to shape upcoming events.

“As we prepare to celebrate this milestone, we want to ensure that those plans involve individuals such as these committee members, who represent the rich culture, history and love in Roanoke,” Harris said. “I thank them for volunteering their time and talents to this group.”

The members of the committee are:

Honorable Clifton (Chip) Woodrum, Co-Chair
Dr. Wendell Butler, Co-Chair

Ms. Elizabeth T. Bowles
Mr. M. Caldwell Butler
Mr. H. Clarke (Duke) Curtis
Mr. Warner Dalhouse
Ms. Doris Ennis
Ms. Pearl Fu
Mr. Robert A. Garland
Ms. Brenda Hale
Ms. Kathy Hill
Mr. A. L. Holland, Sr.
Mr. George Kegley
Ms. Taylor Kiefer
Mr. Forrest Landon
Mr. Michael Ramsey
Mr. Craig D. Walker, II

Harris said that they plan to honor this anniversary with a series of activities and special events to be held throughout the year, culminating in an arts festival in the fall, which could develop into an annual event.

“For 125 years Roanoke has been, and continues to be, a wonderful place to live and work,” Harris said. “It is only fitting that we celebrate our anniversary in a way that truly embraces our community in 2007 and in years to come.”

Following the announcement, the committee convened for its first meeting. As plans proceed the committee hopes to continue to receive ideas from the community on aspects of the city that should be celebrated, Harris said. The committee is also is hoping to hear from businesses and residents who have been a part of Roanoke for most – or even all – of the city’s 125 years.

Additional information about the city’s 125th anniversary will be available in upcoming months. In the meantime, Roanoke citizens are beginning to brush up on their city history:

Towns formed within what is now the city of Roanoke in the first decades of the 19th Century. Antwerp was subdivided in 1801 followed by Gainesborough in 1825 (the present Gainsboro neighborhood) and Old Lick in 1834. The Gainesborough settlement remained the most populous community until 1874 when the Town of Big Lick was chartered. This tiny village of less than 500 people was to become the town of Roanoke in 1882 and in 1884, the city of Roanoke. The new town was located along the old Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad later to become the Norfolk and Western. Completion of the Shenandoah Valley Railroad from Hagerstown to Roanoke in 1882 marked the start of Roanoke’s rapid growth.

For more Roanoke history, please visit the Roanoke Main Library or

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