Linda Duyer: Looking forward to Salisbury’s Tercentennial

About 17 years from now, Salisbury will be celebrating its Tercentennial, marking 300 years of history. What will Salisbury be like by then? What will be the historical record documenting the last 17 of those 300 years?

Some 83 years ago this week, Salisbury celebrated its Bicentennial. From Aug. 7-13, 1932, crowds by the thousands thronged to the town for merriment of music, parades, athletic competitions, pageantry, exhibits, banquets, ceremonies and more.

On that Sunday Aug. 7, events began with afternoon opening rounds of golf, and in the evening the town was treated to a Sacred Concert and Religious Services at the Municipal Park, led by Rev. Dr. Lewis Seymour Mudge, chief executive of the Presbyterian Church in America. The pastors and congregations of about 400 churches of all denominations on the peninsula were invited to attend.

After the services the park’s illuminated fountain was turned on for the first time. The Sunday evening musical program was performed by the Bicentennial Band, directed by Herbert Berry Marston, the first director of the Salisbury Community Band.

Monday morning began with registration of guests and former Salisburians, followed by golf and tennis. Monday afternoon ceremonies kicked off the official opening of celebration downtown with greetings to J. Sidney Rambridge, Mayor of Salisbury, England, followed by a public reception. That evening there was a band concert and carnival.

Tuesday, there was more golf and tennis, lots of it. That evening a large historical pageant was held in the Municipal Park, with reportedly a cast of 330 “lineal descendants of early settlers.”

Wednesday began with “Girls Day” of athletic contests including aquatic sports. The afternoon held “Boys’ Day in charge of City Government” and a reception at the “Girl Scouts Little House,” whatever that was. The evening held a public banquet with Maryland’s Gov. Albert Ritchie and the Mayor of Salisbury, England.

The “Pageant of History” included scenes of “Indians hearing of the coming of the White Man,” the Indian Chief portrayed by Gene Wanna. There were scenes of the Revolutionary War days, and the formation of Wicomico County.

The Civil War was demonstrated with “Civil War Tunes.”

Jim Jeams, Salisbury’s last town crier, (known to be James James) was portrayed by Ernest Holloway. Governor and Mrs. Jackson were portrayed by Mr. and Mrs. Hugh J. Vander Bogart. There were a host of participants portraying everything from torch bearers to fruit and vegetables. There were scenes of preparation for world wars, followed by the pageants of growth, agriculture, transportation, building, industry and so much more.

Reportedly, about 70,000 visitors viewed the parade, far exceeding predictions. The parade began at College Avenue, with the parade Marshal John K. Gunby leading the parade, arriving at the reviewing stand 45 minutes later, leading a procession of all sorts of parade events, complete with local bands and the 48-piece U.S. Naval Academy band.

The festivities had to have required months, perhaps years of preparation — 200 years is a lot of history.

For us, 17 years might be a long time to consider such a celebration. But it is a good time to be thinking about the qualities of Salisbury that matter to you.

How will Salisbury’s third century be described? What should be remembered, what should be preserved?

Will what we create during the next years be something about which Salisbury will be proud? Something to think about on this 283rd anniversary of Salisbury’s beginnings.

Linda Duyer lives in Salisbury and is writing a book about the community’s history. Contact her at lindaduyer1@yahoo.com.

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