Port St. Joe’s centennial and birthday celebration came to a close last Friday after a week’s worth of events.
Port St. Joe’s centennial and birthday celebration came to a close last Friday after a week’s worth of events. With over 30 celebratory events scheduled across eight days, there was no shortage of family fun to be had.
The centennial committee, which was appointed by Mayor Magidson in October included Patti Blaylock, Dana Boyer, Jennifer Jenkins, Clarence Monette, John Parker, Charlotte Pierce, Tim Nelson, Paula Pickett and Steve Kerigan.
The group brainstormed events and did their best to see them through to completion while competing against Mother Nature.
“The event was well-received,” said Pickett about the celebration festivities.
The celebration, which began the last Friday in June, started with a bang as over 300 members of the community showed up to a fish fry at city commons that rose over $2,000 for celebration expenses.
A parade down Reid Avenue followed that highlighted founding members of the community and graduates of Port St. Joe High School over many generations.
The following Saturday was a 5K run, SaltAir Farmer’s Market and the first display of the static light show which ran nightly at George Core Park.
Sunday’s family fun day brought out the kids for the first annual kite flying competition and PSJ soccer fundraiser.
“It was cool seeing people use the park like that,” said Pickett.
Monday, the official birthday of the city, was celebrated by the burial of a time capsule to be opened in 50 years along with a speech by the mayor, essay readings from high school students and a the release of 100 lanterns. It gave those in attendance to become interactive with the celebration and guests smiled as lanterns began filling the sky over downtown.
“We really had a great birthday party that night,” Magidson said.
The timeline was also open for display all week in the Event Welcome Center on Reid Avenue. The timeline displayed 100 years’ worth of photos and newspaper clippings that showed the evolution of the city and its major events leading up to the present.
“It started great conversations,” said Pickett.
Visitors to the timeline were able to help identify former residents who appeared in the photographs and shared stories from the past. The timeline is meant to be expanded upon each year and the committee plans for it to be on display each Independence Day for many years to come.
Though rain prevented an celebration of independence on the Fourth, residents and visitors alike braved the rain the following day and lined the coast of St. Joseph Bay as fireworks lit up the night sky in a spectacle fitting of a 100th birthday.
Committee member Boyer praised the event for allowing the celebration to showcase the city’s small town charm which she considers to be part of Port St. Joe’s appeal.
“So many small towns lose their sense of identity,” said Boyer. “Tourists love the small town feeling we have here.”
The committee members reported that former residents returned to town specifically for the celebration and Pickett said that the events created “an interesting platform for connections that may not have otherwise been made.”
On several occasions they witnessed centennial attendees coming together who hadn’t seen one another in over 20 years. In a week dedicated to recalling the history of the town, the mission appeared to be accomplished.
“Tourist destinations tend to whitewash their communities,” said Pickett. “We’re authentic.”
Committee member Charlotte Pierce reminded everyone that commemorative centennial coins and t-shirts are going fast, and anyone still in need should get theirs while the supply last. They are available for purchase at City Hall.