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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lehigh County's 200th B-Day Coming Up

Allentown – Lehigh County will celebrate its Bicentennial on March 6, 2012 and organizers are preparing for a series of major events and history projects to mark the birth of the county that will include a two-day community celebration, a county Hall of Fame, a history book and a legacy project.

“Our county was created 200 years ago during America’s infancy, just as our young nation was preparing to go to war again with Great Britain in the War of 1812,” Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham said. “And, just as those Americans persevered, overcame adversity and prospered, the original inhabitants of this county overcame uncertainty and built a foundation for our future.”

In recognition of the upcoming 200th birthday, Cunningham formed a Lehigh County Bicentennial Committee last year that has developed plans to properly recognize the Bicentennial and to celebrate the county’s history, heritage and the contribution of its residents.

Major plans include: a Gala Fundraiser at the Lehigh Valley Heritage Center in Allentown this Nov. 11, a two-day celebration at the Agri-Plex at the Allentown Fairgrounds the weekend of the Bicentennial, March 10-11, 2012, a county Hall of Fame, a coffee table history book, and a legacy project to improve and promote the George Taylor House in Catasauqua, the home of one of the 56 signers of the United States Declaration of Independence.

In addition to coordinating and supporting three specific projects, the Bicentennial Committee will be working with community organizations, churches, schools, local governments and historical groups to develop and coordinate a wide variety of activities to recognize the county’s history and heritage during the Bicentennial year. A logo has been developed by Bethlehem artist Dina Hall that will be used to signify all Bicentennial events throughout 2012.

“While our commemoration marks the 200th anniversary of the creation of Lehigh County, our celebration will be very much about today -- and the bright future that tomorrow holds for our residents,” said Dan McCarthy, a member of the Bicentennial Committee, and communications executive for PPL in Allentown.

The Bicentennial Committee is welcoming participation from the community. Sub-committees have been formed for the Fundraising Gala, the Bicentennial Celebration and the History Book. In addition, volunteers will be needed for events. To volunteer for committees or to help with events, please send an email to jillslivka@lehighcounty.org or call the Lehigh County Executive Office and ask for Jill Slivka at 610-782-3001. The Committee also is seeking a wide range of photographs, maps, postcards and historical and family memorabilia for use in the history book and other displays

“During the last two centuries, Lehigh County has welcomed waves of immigrants and continued to grow, becoming a large and diverse metropolitan county with about 350,000 people while still maintaining a quiet charm and rich quality of life,” Cunningham said.

The Committee will be seeking financial support from the business community, private donors and government to support these three Bicentennial Projects. Along with donations, the Committee will host a Bicentennial Gala on Friday, November 11 at the Lehigh Valley Heritage Center in Allentown to raise financial support and to promote awareness of the upcoming Bicentennial. The Gala also will be the kick off celebration event. In addition, corporate support is being sought for the history book project that will allow for significant small and large business and community institutions to be featured in the keepsake book. Participation fees and sponsorships will also be sought to help finance the community festival and celebration.

The Celebration and Hall of Fame

The county’s actual Bicentennial birthday is on March 6, 2012. Organizers are planning a two-day community celebration to take place the weekend of March 10 and 11 at the Allentown Fairgrounds Agri-Plex facility. The celebration will involve a multitude of community groups, churches, youth organizations and historical societies with displays, exhibits and cultural entertainment on the county’s rich history, which will include a variety of ethnic foods and beverages.

In recognition of Lehigh County’s own “Fourth of July” there will be fireworks, a short parade and some entertainment. Organizers expect it to be a star studded event as the Bicentennial Committee will launch a Lehigh County Hall of Fame, inducting a class of living honorees who either were born, worked or lived at one time in Lehigh County.

For the Hall of Fame selection process, the Bicentennial Committee will be seeking nominations from the public for candidates to be selected in eight categories, including: business, the arts, athletics, education, science and medicine, literature and journalism, government and military, and innovation and philanthropy. The deadline for nominations is June 30 and can be submitted on the Bicentennial Celebration website, which will be a page on the Lehigh County website: www.lehighcounty.org. Nominees must be someone living who was born in the county, resides here or lived here at one time or who works/worked in the county or has/had a business here. A posthumously class of nominees may be considered for special recognition.

The History Book

The Bicentennial Committee has commissioned local history writer Frank Whelan, along with a committee of historians and archivists to work in conjunction with the Lehigh County Historical Society and private collectors, to develop an attractive coffee table book that will capture the rich history of Lehigh County, particularly during the last 100 years. The book will include historical photos, maps, illustrations and interesting stories about the people and events that took place in Lehigh County with a focus on how the history of our county has been a microcosm of the history of America. The book will be available for purchase during the Bicentennial year.

The Legacy Project

Bicentennial Committee members believe that a “legacy project” should happen during the Bicentennial year that helps preserve and promote a piece of this county’s history. Too many historical sites or buildings go wanting for lack of financial support to properly preserve and then promote their significance. The Committee wants to use the Bicentennial as the impetus to strengthen and promote a symbol of Lehigh County’s history that needs help.

The Committee has selected the George Taylor House in Catasauqua, the Lehigh County home of one of our nation’s 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. The property is a National Historic Landmark owned by the Historic Catasauqua Preservation Association. Built for Taylor – one of America’s Founding Fathers – in 1768, this little altered house has been carefully restored and is open to visitors. A master plan and feasibility study is being done to determine how to improve and better use the house and 13-acres of surrounding open space and how to better promote this historical gem in Lehigh County. It’s the intention of the Bicentennial Committee that this historic treasure becomes better known to the people of Lehigh County and beyond.


Dennis P said...

Peter Rhodes was the 1st Burgess of the liberated town of Northampton Toen which became Allentown when it became a Borough ... He was also the First Justice of the Court of Common Pleas ... His brother in law Peter Kohler was a member of the Committee of Public Safety during the Revolutionary and became the 1st State Representative representing the wWhitehall area of the Lehigh Valley whose principle village at the time was founded by Jacob Kohler.

I brought the subject of the Lehigh County's 200th Anniversary and Allentown's 250th Anniversary up to both Cunningham and Pawlowski at Egypt Memorial Park last year ... Seeing at a County Commissioner meeting that money was appropriated for the Biccentennial Committee I asked whether a Committe had already formed and said I wanted to be part of it because of my family's special relationship to Lehigh County's start and the nation's start... Have you hear of the Declaration of Independence at Guthsville... MS Feinberg said that there was a Committee already establsihed and my participation would be welcome in due time ... I know of another Committee celebrating a Bethlehem Steel Strike of 1910 that one of the organizers said the same thing when the PA Labor History Society at one of its Conferences said that I was supposed to beon the organizing committee ... I am indeed perturbed by this political slight fom bureaucrats.

Dennis Pearson

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I hear Don will be featured on the cover of the coffee table book.

Anonymous said...

Don is so scrumptious. Like O'Hare I just want to eat him up.

Anonymous said...

maybe cunninghan will win the sleeziest administrator award