Eudora celebrates 150th birthday
As the children twisted and twirled to live music by the Michael Beers Band Friday evening, Alberta Pyle made an observation.
"This is small town America," she said.
The street dance, part of the first activities of the city's 150th anniversary celebration, reminded Alberta, who is the wife of Eudora Mayor Tom Pyle, of street dances from decades past. Citizens used to dance to records in an area behind the current city hall at the corner of Seventh and Main streets in the summer, and on the top floor of a building on Main Street in the winter.
Throughout the weekend, residents celebrated the small-town atmosphere with food, arts and the unveiling of an iconic statue of the town's founder.
Toasting the town
Relaxing outside the group's first-ever beer garden Friday night, Eudora Chamber of Commerce President John Fiore summed up the first day of festivities.
"I think everyone's expectations have been exceeded," he said.
The party began at about 6 p.m. as crowds packed CPA Park to watch a volunteer recognition ceremony.
Sesquicentennial committee members called up representatives from volunteer organizations ranging from The Eudora Lions Club to Boy Scout Troop 64.
After receiving her pin and certificate, local historian Fern Long offered an explanation.
"Whatever I've done, anyone can do it. They just have to make up their mind to do it," she said.
After the ceremony, people ate buffalo burgers provided by Cutter's Smokehouse and had traditional birthday cake and ice cream.
"I think this was worth the wait in the nine-mile-long line," Lawrence resident Aaron Crabill said about the buffalo burger.
Amid the beer garden, band and conversation, residents joined together to take part in the city's longest beard and and longest hair competition.
According to the released results, Frank Henricks had the longest beard -- gauged by the judges at 18 centimeters -- and Brenda Long won the longest hair contest. Her hair was measured at 98 centimeters.
Later in the evening, residents were treated to a fireworks show prepared by committee member Brent Lathrom.
The night marked the second time former Nottingham Elementary School teacher Bertha Nichols attended a centennial event.
For the city's 1957 centennial celebration, she remembered dressing up with the other women in pioneer clothes.
This time, sitting with her family, she watched the surroundings.
"It's exciting," she said.
Unveiling and more
Saturday's sesquicentennial activities intertwined with the annual EudoraFest event.
"We're just making it a bigger party," Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said.
The party Saturday involved packed streets, constant music and the unveiling of a bronze statue by Lawrence artist Jim Brothers.
The Eudora Lions Club, city and public donations funded the statue. When it was revealed, citizens saw a rendition of Paschal Fish embraced by his daughter Eudora.
"It's beautiful," resident Jackie Verhelst said.
Later in the afternoon, residents let go of letters, mementos and pieces of local history to be buried in a time capsule.
Former Police Chief Bill Long donated his badge.
"I just thought it would be something cool to do," he said.
Photos of the celebration can be found on Page 7A or online at www.eudoranews.co