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It’s Party Time!

5K, parade to open Madison’s
200-hour Party for Bicentennial

Opening ceremony
to include VIP guests, singers

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

Madison Bicentennial Logo

(June 2009) – Madison Bicentennial Celebration Committee members have been working for more than a year to plan an unforgettable birthday bash to commemorate the community’s founding. The year-long celebration, which started in January 2009, includes a 200-hour Party on June 6-14. The party is set to get under way on June 6 with a day packed with activities, including a 5K run-walk, a parade, opening ceremonies and an evening lighted boat parade.
The Bicentennial 5K Run-Walk starts it all 8 a.m. at a tent at 100 Vaughn Dr., just west of Madison Bicentennial Park. Participants who have not already registered need to arrive early. Jenny Eggenspiller, special events coordinator for the city of Madison, said there will be prizes awarded for several age groups and for overall top runners, both male and female. T-shirts should be available for every participant, too. The cost will be $20 to participate.
After the race, visitors and residents will find plenty to do before the Founders’ Parade begins at 11 a.m. The parade focuses on the people of Madison, from the founders and their families to the people who live here, grew up here, or even simply love to visit.
The Founders Parade is a people parade,” said Margaret Seifert, a member of the Rotary Club, the organization overseeing the parade.
Seifert said the parade organizers envision the parade much like an old-fashioned Fourth of July parade would have been, with children on decorated bicycles, pets in costumes, clubs, organizations, scout troops, dance teams, neighborhood groups, work teams, churches and just about any other groups of people who want to walk.
“Be creative and make your group stand out by something like wearing costumes that represent the year of it’s founding,” said Seifert. “Or wear a costume from the country of your family’s origin. Even a unifying activity like a kazoo band or an IPod shuffle squad would be fun.”
“It is hoped that there will be more people in the parade than watching it; people that have decided to share a day together as they walk toward the river,” she said.
The Jefferson County Genealogical Society will be there with three groups of marchers from the community’s founding families. The groups are divided into three time frames, and some of the participants who are not able to walk the route will be taken down it by the Madison Trolley.
Jefferson County Genealogical Society’s Annette Harper said the organization has been involved in a lengthy First Families project that has helped people trace their ancestors back to the founding families. The project, which includes the entire county and not just Madison, will continue until 2011 when Jefferson County, Ind., celebrates its Bicentennial.
The project divided families into three time frames, Frontier Families, Founding Families and First Century Families. Harper said people interested in being in the program had to fill out lengthy applications and offer proof their ancestors were here.
“We have been pretty thorough with the research,” she said. “Ideally, we like to see people bring in documents such as marriage deeds, birth certificates, wills, and even land deeds to prove the actual link from one generation from the next.” She has had some instances where people have brought in their Bible records. Many family histories were traditionally kept on pages in the front of family Bibles.
During the project, 27 ancestors of pioneer families were traced, including relatives of J.F.D. Lanier and John Paul. “We have people from across the country, including California, Florida and Michigan who have traced their roots back to Madison,” she said.
Founding families marching in the parade have been given custom T-shirts with the family name on them. There will be ancestors marching from the Vawter, Ryker, Demaree and Lanier families, all of whom played a significant role in the development of Madison.
The parade will form prior to the start at John Paul Park, proceed down Third Street and then Broadway to the river. There, participants and spectators will be able to enjoy the events of the opening ceremony.
The opening ceremony will get underway at noon. Prior to that, at 11:30 a.m. the Bicentennial Band will entertain the crowds with some old-fashioned music. A group of churches that made the Bicentennial CD “Our Heritage of Praise,” will perform a song after that.
Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong will officially open the Bicentennial festivities with a proclamation, and then “Jesse Vawter,” as portrayed by Alva Tripp, will give the opening prayer.
It’s going to be a nice, semi-formal kickoff to get things rolling,” said Eggenspiller. “
Dignitaries scheduled to be at the ceremony include Indiana State Rep. Dave Cheatham and State Sen. Jim Lewis. A representative for U.S. Sen. Baron Hill is also scheduled to attend.
The day ends at the riverfront at 9 p.m. with a Lighted Boat Parade, bonfire and music fest. Participants in the boat parade will have their boats decorated with lights and any other medium they choose. Prizes will be awarded for boats who have the best decorating with steamboat theme, hydroplane theme, fishing boat, overall lighting and freestyle.
The Jimmy Davis Band will perform as part of the festivities at 10 p.m. on the Madison Bicentennial Park Stage.

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