With paint and imagination, students from Athens High School gave the City of Athens a birthday card worthy of a brick wall in Downtown Athens.
Art teacher Beverly Bobo’s students received bicentennial grant money from the State of Alabama. She contacted the Mayor’s Office for ideas. The result is an ATHENS mural on the corner of Market and Marion streets that celebrates 200 years of the city’s Classic. Southern. Character. and a historic scavenger hunt that will be held during the Nov. 17 Athens Bicentennial Bash.
The mural features a train, iconic and historic buildings around the city, and ATHENS letters designed with events like Kiddie Carnival and Fiddlers.
“First, I want to say that our world is connected through the arts,” Bobo wrote on Facebook once the students completed the mural. “Our daily lives and communities are so much richer because of our fine arts experiences. What we bring to an art form as well as what an artist is trying to convey gives us all a more meaningful view of our world. We wanted to leave something that would bring beauty and instill pride in Athens's historical treasures for years to come.”
Bobo said her students showed “grit, determination, kindness and lots of talent” by working after track meets, working on Saturdays, and working in the heat.
The public art project sparked another mural venture at the former Regions building across from City Hall. Art students from Lindsay Lane Christian Academy have started paintings of postcards that feature sites important to Athens, as well as the city’s logo.
“When students are invested in your city, then you know your city has a promising future,” Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks said.
The Athens Bicentennial Bash sponsored by WOW! will be Nov. 17 in Downtown Athens. The party will be in conjunction with Christmas Open House, traditionally held the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Athens officially turns 200 on Nov. 19, but organizers thought more people could attend a Saturday celebration and chose Nov. 17 as the party date. The committee is recreating Trade Day, when citizens once flocked to Downtown Athens to shop and enter a drawing for a vehicle. Dealers Auto Auction has donated a Kia Rio to Athens Main Street, and people can donate $5 a ticket or $10 for three tickets to enter an Athens trivia contest to win the car. The first 200 who register will receive Athens bicentennial shopping tote sponsored by WOW!
Other activities include:
- At 10 a.m., Athens High students will conduct a historic scavenger hunt starting at the mural. The hunt will take participants to various sites in the city. There will be prizes for winners.
- At noon, Athens High School Band will play a medley of songs written by Athens and Limestone County natives as well as lead the crowd in “Happy Birthday.” The Athens Bicentennial Committee will provide 200 birthday cupcakes to 200 lucky spectators.
- At 1:30 p.m., the Friends of the Limestone County Archives will host a Best Beard for Men and Best Hat for Ladies Contest, with the winner in each category receiving $100.
- At 2 p.m., a photographer will take a photo of the crowd on Marion Street, a recreation of the historic Trade Day photo in Athens.
- At 3 p.m., Athens Main Street will host the drawing for five people who registered for the vehicle sponsored by Dealers Auto Auction. The five will answer trivia questions, with the winner receiving the vehicle.
- From 3-5 p.m., Athens Arts League will host a reception for the Art As Our Narrative bicentennial exhibit at High Cotton Arts. The exhibit will include bicentennial-themed quilts, photography, paintings, stained glass and student-created art. The exhibit is on display from Oct. 29 through Dec. 31.
The Alabama Bicentennial Commission has endorsed the bash and the art exhibit.
To stay updated on not only the Athens Bicentennial Bash but also other bicentennial events held by several entities through 2019, follow us on Facebook at City of Athens, Alabama, Bicentennial. There will also be posts on that page to help those who compete in the trivia contest for the car.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner