A Big Birthday Bash: Mansfield Turns 125 Years Old This Year and Celebrations are Under Way
Mansfield High School, built in 1924. Photo courtesy of Mansfield Historical Museum & Heritage Center.
Gallery: Community Profile: Mansfield 125 - March/April 2015 [10 Images] Click any image to expand.
Mansfield is turning 125 years old in 2015 and the celebration is already under way. On August 23, Mansfield will recognize 125 years as an incorporated city and officials have not only planned events around that date but also throughout the year. Though the official term for a 125th observance is “quasquicentennial,” the city is calling the celebration “Mansfield 125” and it should be a big tadoo.
“We are planning a big birthday party in the historic downtown, where it all started,” says Belinda Willis, director of communications and marketing for Mansfield and a member of the celebration’s organizing committee. The committee has teamed up with local entities like the Mansfield Historical Museum & Heritage Center to brand the celebration. The city even established a website, www.mansfield125.com where people can get all the information they need on the events and activities throughout the year.
Mansfield has recognized history once before in 1990 at the city’s centennial. But for its Mansfield 125 celebration, a steering committee of community leaders and an action committee representing several key groups and organizations in Mansfield has been working on special events and projects. And to tie it all together they are partnering with many existing special events to bring a Mansfield 125 element to these established festivities.
“We knew one day wasn’t enough. We wanted a year to recognize all the different things that make Mansfield special and unique,” says Willis. In January, the Winter Walk featured cute little signs displaying facts and key figures related to the city’s history. Willis says look for these signs throughout the city and throughout the year. More Mansfield 125 celebrations will take place at the St. Paddy’s Day Pickle Parade, Mansfield Reads, Juneteenth, Rockin’ 4th of July, Night on the Town and Hometown Holidays to name a few.
But the cornerstone event of the year will be the Mansfield 125 celebration scheduled to be a part of the annual Wurstfest event. This year it will be called “Wurstfest Celebrates Mansfield 125” and it is set for September 12. It will include all the great traditional German-themed activities usually associated with Wurstfest coupled with a really big birthday celebration for the city that will include fireworks and a parade.
But there will be more opportunities and ways to celebrate during the year. For example, there will be a program called “125 For Mansfield 125.” This initiative encourages residents to volunteer their time for a good cause by logging 125 hours during the year in honor of the city’s birthday. Committee member Susan Lutrell, a 40-year Mansfield resident, is heading up this part of the city’s celebration. She says more than a dozen local organizations are providing opportunities for participants to volunteer.
“We are asking folks to celebrate the community of Mansfield by volunteering 125 service hours to others,” she says. “We are providing log books for everyone to track these hours and the www.mansfield125.com website provides a list of agencies in the area that could use volunteers.”
Volunteer log books are available at City Hall, the Mansfield Historical Society and Heritage Museum and other city facilities around town.
The city’s history will also be celebrated during the annual Juneteenth event. Organizer Brenda Norwood has been in charge of that event for 30 years and is excited to join in with Mansfield 125. “It will be an exciting time to celebrate 150 years of Juneteenth at the same time we celebrate 125 years of Mansfield,” she says. This event will feature a walkathon and rodeo, among other things.
A lot of planning has gone into Mansfield 125. The steering and action committees have been busy organizing and planning the events. Vern Raven, who is on the action committee and is a central figure at the Mansfield Historical Museum and Heritage Center, says the month of August will also be key to the museum. “We are still working out some of the details but one thing for sure we will do is create a time capsule that encompasses our city’s history.”Whether your family has been living in Mansfield for 5 years or 125 years, the Mansfield 125 celebration is sure to offer a fun and exciting time. And as Belinda Willis says, “Mansfield’s greatest asset is its people. They really love the community, they care about it and are proud of what the city accomplishes. They take great joy in being a part of everything.”
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