City kicks off sesquicentennial events

Published 6:00 am Friday, February 1, 2008

At the stroke of midnight Cinderella’s coach turned back into apumpkin, but at the stroke of 2 p.m. Wednesday, Brookhaven turned150 years old.

Local businesses and schools celebrated by releasing balloonswith messages into the air; area residents honked horns and bangedpots and pans; and fire trucks staged at the schools to run theirsirens at exactly 2 p.m.

Mamie Martin first-grader Seth McCaffrey held the balloon forhis class as launch time approached and other children excitedlyclustered around. Other red balloons bobbed in the hands ofteachers, as each classroom had one balloon to release.

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“I think he’s the only student that’s getting to let off aballoon,” said his teacher Laura Groth.

Different classes took turns singing “Happy Birthday” to thecity, as a Brookhaven fire truck waited on the street beyond tosound the siren at just the right time.

At the stroke of two, the balloons were released and childrenwatched them fly into the sky, shielding their eyes from the brightsun and pointing alternately at the shrinking red dots and a smallrainbow that had formed just above the school.

Steering committee member Shannon Clark was at BrookhavenElementary and said the children there were excited about theevent.

“The kids at the schools seemed to have a really good time …,”she said. “They were jumping up and down and going crazy.”

Clark said bringing the schools in on the celebration was a goodway not only to educate the children on Brookhaven’s birthday, buttheir parents as well.

“The best thing is that they’ll all tell their parents about the150th anniversary from the things they did at school,” shesaid.

Clark said teachers had asked if she had information onBrookhaven’s history. She said she passed along information fromDurr Walker’s book, “Lincoln County, Mississippi: A PictorialHistory.”

“Teachers are using this as an opportunity to teach aboutBrookhaven,” Clark said.

Sesquicentennial Committee Chairwoman Rita Rich said she thoughtthe event went well all over town.

“I thought everything went wonderful,” she said. “I was downtownat the chamber and there were people that came down there andeveryone blew their horn.”

She said Police Chief Pap Henderson made a special appearance atthe Chamber of Commerce and ran his siren at 2 p.m. for theenjoyment of those gathered.

“Everyone was laughing and having a good time,” she said.

Rich also complimented Clark’s hard work in getting the schoolevents organized, and thanked local florists for deliveringballoons to the schools.

Wednesday’s kicked off a year-long celebration spearheaded bythe Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce. Each month willhave a designated theme, and Clark said each theme is important intelling a vital part of Brookhaven’s history.

“We started brainstorming and people came up with what wasimportant to Brookhaven. Of course we couldn’t hit everything, justthe main themes and ideas,” Clark said.

One part of the sesquicentennial puzzle that many people havealready begun looking forward to is the beard contest. Rich saidit’s never too early to start growing a beard for the contest,which will be held May 3.

“They just need to go ahead and start growing out their beards,moustaches and goatees,” she said.