Cape to mark bicentennial in 2006

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Cape Girardeau will celebrate its bicentennial as a city in 2006, beginning in February with a re-enactment of the filing of a plat that set the original boundaries of the town.

A committee headed by city spokeswoman Tracey Glenn is currently planning for the bicentennial.

Committee members hope to expand Old Town Cape's annual Libertyfest Fourth of July event next year to celebrate the city's 200th birthday.

Other civic and city groups will be encouraged to incorporate the bicentennial theme in their events throughout the year, everything ranging from the city's air show to the annual SEMO District Fair and Southeast Missouri State University's homecoming.

"I think most people might buy into the bicentennial," Glenn said.

French Canadian Louis Lorimier founded Cape Girardeau, filing the original plat with the common pleas court on Feb. 3, 1806.

In 1906, the city held a centennial celebration. A sesquicentennial celebration was held from in 1956 from August 19 to August 25.

Tim Arbeiter, director of the Old Town Cape redevelopment organization and a member of the bicentennial committee, said Libertyfest could be expanded next year. The only drawback, he said, is that the public will expect an expanded Libertyfest every year.

Fireworks are the most expensive part of Libertyfest, he said. It costs $15,000 in fireworks alone just for a nine-minute show, Arbeiter said.

Councilwoman Loretta Schneider suggested bicentennial events during the year should include a parade and lectures on the city's history. But so far nothing has been finalized.

The planning committee has talked of designating an official vendor. Committee members said companies would have to submit proposals. The selected firm would pay a fee for the privilege of being the official vendor who would then be able to sell souvenirs at various bicentennial events, committee members said.

A similar approach was used in celebrating the opening of the new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge, Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce president John Mehner said.

As for bicentennial events, the committee said it may consider holding song and photo contests.

Schneider said she would like to see the city exhibit some of the artifacts of Cape Girardeau's history.

Local residents might be willing to loan items for display, she said. "People have a lot of things hidden away," Schneider said.

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