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The Centennial Illumination

April 28, 2010

I was cruisin’ around Pottstown’s 4th of July Homecoming Celebration blog, and came across the fascinating published account of the 1876 Centennial Celebration, held in honor of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. (You can click on the link at the bottom right of their page or go here.)

I was especially intrigued by the description on pages 12-13 of the event known as “The Centennial Illumination.” Basically, Pottstown residents and businesses were encouraged to decorate their buildings and, between 9-10 pm on the evening of July 3rd, they were to light up their properties.

“As the hour of 9 o’clock in the evening was tolled out upon the air by the town clock, gas burners, transparencies, lamps, candles, Chinese lanterns, balls of fire and all other means of illumination, were fired up, and a brilliant flood of light thrown upon the streets, presenting a scene of beauty, the like of which is unrecorded in the annals of the town.”

I get chills every time I read that.

So this got me to thinking… is an “illumination”, even for just a few hours the night before the parade, maybe even only in the downtown, possibly a way to further distinguish Pottstown as THE BEST place to observe the 4th? As more restaurants and stores open up downtown – think people dining outside at Juan Carlos & Funky Lil’ Kitchen & Martha’s Famous & other restaurants & cafes, people browsing in galleries and shops, music in Smith Plaza, music in the lot between the former Amy’s Attic & Ranieri’s – I’m imagining the magic that could happen when all the church bells start to ring and those lights pop on for just a couple hours on that one night. (You miss it, you gotta wait til next July.) And it’s something that the town has already done, it’s already part of its story.

Sigh.

I guess I have to get back to work. Writing deadline looming. Just procrastinating and daydreaming out loud on a Wednesday morning…

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