200 Alabama Bicentennial

Celebrating Alabama’s 200th birthday2017 2018 2019

When the 12-foot-tall MoonPie descends the 34-story RSA Trustmark skyrise in Mobile on Tuesday, Jan. 1, it won’t just mark the beginning of a new year but the first of hundreds of events planned for Alabama’s bicentennial year.

During the 365 days, 225 cities, towns and communities across the state will hold more than 400 events. 

 

“From small towns to big cities, the bicentennial is going to have an enormous impact during 2019,” said Jay Lamar, executive director of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission.  “There will be hundreds of events celebrating Alabama’s past.

“But by helping to train teachers in how to teach this history, helping to restore documents, such as the state constitutions, helping to renovate attractions, such as Constitution Village, and helping to create new ones, such as Bicentennial Park, the bicentennial is also impacting the state’s future.”

Some of the 400 celebrations are traditional events that have upped their game for the bicentennial.  For instance, Mobile’s MoonPie drop, which will feature musical headliner Sister Sledge, the cutting of the world’s largest, edible MoonPie, a second-line parade and a laser light show will expand its Spire Fireworks Show for the bicentennial.

But there will also be many events that are once-in-a-lifetime bicentennial celebrations:

On Feb. 23, bands, choirs, Alabama legislators and the U.S. Postal Service - which will release an Alabama Bicentennial stamp of the state’s highest natural point, Mount Cheaha – will all gather to celebrate the Alabama Bicentennial at Constitution Village, where legislators crafted Alabama’s first constitution. 

On March 30, Tuscaloosa will hold The Bicentennial Bash, a celebration in the heart of downtown, featuring Alabama entertainers, food trucks, fireworks and a kids zone.

From April 11-13, what was the one-day Alabama Book Festival will become Anabranch 2019, a three-day event that will include the book festival on Saturday in Old Alabama Town, but also workshops, special events and more on Thursday and Friday.

President James Monroe, who signed a congressional resolution in December 1819 admitting Alabama as the 22nd state, had made a surprise visit to Alabama months earlier.  There will be a re-enactment of Monroe’s visit to Huntsville on June 1 at Constitution Village.

From June 30-Aug. 11, Alabama’s most important historical documents – all six state constitutions along with the 1861 Ordinance of Secession – will be exhibited at the Huntsville Museum of Art as part of the We the People: Alabama's Defining Moments exhibition.  It is the first time these documents have ever been on display together outside of Montgomery.

From July 15-20, Huntsville and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center will host a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Alabama’s role in landing a man on the moon with a variety of events, including a July 16 attempt to break Guinness World Record by launching 5,000 model rockets simultaneously at 8:32 a.m. the exact time of the launch of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969, a July 16 celebration dinner featuring Apollo astronauts and a July 20 concert.

From Sept. 11-15, there will be a Ride Alabama 200 “Civil Rights Ride.”  In all there will be three designated cycling routes that will take riders to historic sites throughout the state, including this four-day Civil Rights Trail ride spanning 200 miles and more than 50 historic sites.

Amazingly, there are no drawings or paintings of Alabama’s first state Capitol in old Cahawba that were made while it still existed, leaving exactly what the first Capitol looked like a mystery.  But using ground-penetrating radar, archeologists have been able to create a replica of the first Capitol, which they will reveal on Oct. 11 in old Cahawba.

From Nov. 3-Dec. 31, the We the People exhibition, featuring all six Alabama constitutions and the 1861 Ordinance of Secession, will be on display in Montgomery at the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

Dec. 13-15 will mark the culmination of the bicentennial in Montgomery with parades, fireworks, music and the dedication of Bicentennial Park.

Although there are hundreds of public events, Orr said the bicentennial celebration is also having a huge but more subtle impact on Alabama, from its largest cities to its smallest communities. 

“It’s not just celebrations and festivals,” said Sen. Arthur Orr, chairmen of the Bicentennial Commission. “It’s almost impossible to estimate how many thousands of Alabamians are learning more about the state’s history through touring exhibitions, the journeys they are making using the Alabama Bicentennial PastPort book and app, or through the thousand teachers who will have been instructed on ways to teach Alabama history by the end of the Bicentennial.”