Sesquicentennial draws close, Ames’ local history celebrated

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Suhaib Tawil/Iowa State Daily

Jim Mason co-found Country Landscape in 1981. Mason demonstrated how to plant a tree properly to a crowd of volunteers on April 26 at Gateway Park.

Hannah Williams

The Ames Sesquicentennial is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first official mapping in Ames. The events are planned to last the entire 2014 year.

This celebration has been in the making for a little over a year now. A steering team got together at the end of 2013 to develop ideas and ways to commemorate this historic milestone, they have used their time to develop multiple events.

There are events for every season in 2014, as well as two legacy projects. The Ames Area Chamber of Commerce held a January dinner to kick off the celebration. It was hosted in conjunction with their annual dinner but they opened it to the public with a sesquicentennial theme.

“A lot of people have been involved on the committees, they are working really hard to have a successful year and so far it has gone very well, we are very excited and we have some great events coming up in the future,” said Susan Gwiasda, city of Ames public relations officer.

In the summer there will be an Ames 150 celebration July 4. There will be free concerts by bands that are both diverse and internationally known. The celebration will be held both on campus and in downtown Ames followed by Dinky Day in September which will be in Campustown on September 26.

Platting Day, the final event, will recognize the original 12 blocks of the City of Ames that were platted and recorded. “December 17, 1864 was the official platting day. Platting day 2014 will recognize the 150th anniversary of that platting,” said Gwiasda.

The two legacy projects included the planting of 150 trees in Ames and a mobile history trailer. The Ames Historical Society can use the trailer to take some Ames artifacts on the road to visit schools and senior centers in the area.

“The idea of the legacy project is to leave something behind for future generations to enjoy,” said Gwiasda.

One of the reasons that the trees were selected is that the Emerald Ash Borer is an insect that is killing ash trees and is most likely going to take out a lot of the ash trees in the community in the next few years, said Gwiasda.

“There is more to the legacy project than that they are just nice things to do. We actually are laying the foundation for a better community in the future,” said Gwiasda.

Gwiasda said she thinks that everybody should join in to celebrate the sesquicentennial because it is a significant milestone to reach. In addition to being an opportunity to remember the successes of the past, the celebration is an opportunity to plan for the kind of community citizens would like to see in the future.

“We encourage everybody to get involved. These are celebrations and everybody is invited. We hope that we have activities, events and projects that are of interest to everybody,” said Gwiasda.

Casie Vance, executive director at the Ames Historical Society, who also serves on the steering committee for Ames 150, said it is important for students to participate, as well as have some knowledge about Ames’ history because they too are a part of the Ames community.

“Students are really a part of Ames. I think that it is important for them to know a little bit about Ames’ history and this is a good opportunity to celebrate that,” said Vance.