Sesquicentennial celebration to wrap up Dec. 1

Robert Houk • Updated Nov 20, 2019 at 7:57 PM

Johnson City officials plan to wrap up its yearlong sesquicentennial celebration with a community party at Legacy Plaza in King Commons on Dec. 1.

The public event, which will be held from 2-4 p.m. on the actual date of the 150th anniversary of the city receiving its current municipal charter, will include the burial of a time capsule and the official lighting of a commissioned sculpture of three passion flowers in the center of History Circle.

City crews were working Wednesday to install the art centerpiece — which includes illuminated filaments and moving petals — in Legacy Plaza. The $147,000 art installation was approved by the Johnson City Commission on July 18.

The sculpture was created by artists Jeffrey Reed and Jennifer Madden of Reed Madden Designs in California.

The three passion flowers each represent a star on Tennessee’s Tri-Star flag, and the 150 total filaments are a tribute to the city’s 150th anniversary celebration. The passion flower is the official state wildflower of Tennessee.

Legacy Plaza includes a history circle with four concentric rings featuring engraved blocks that list key dates and information about Johnson City’s history. The “Tri-Star” area pays tribute to the Tennessee flag, which was designed by Johnson City resident Col. LeRoy Reeves.

Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock said the Sesquicentennial Commission’s signature project is more than 75% complete. She said the Dec. 1 finale will be a continuation of a yearlong effort to educate the public on Johnson City’s past, as well as to preserve its history for future generations.

Brock said the work of the Sesquicentennial Commission, city staff and the community on the 150th celebration has “exceeded expectations,” and she hopes Legacy Plaza will become “a special place” where parents and grandparents can take their children and grandchildren to learn more about the city’s history.

“I’m very proud of how we have captured the spirit of who we are, and have built a strong foundation to pass that torch on to the next generation,” Brock said.

The mayor said she has been working on a letter to her counterpart in 2069 that will be buried in a time capsule at the closing ceremony. Brock said she hopes city residents who open the capsule in 50 years “will see how much our families and children meant to us.”

As part of the Dec. 1 celebration, children will be invited to make and take home their own personal time capsules at a crafts table. Boxes, decorations and a fill-in-the-blank list of favorite things of 2019 will be provided at the event.