Laramie’s 150th Anniversary Committee is finishing the city’s and county’s sesquicentennial celebration with a gift — 100 holiday ornaments decorated with the official 150th anniversary logo.
The ornaments are slated to be handed out on a first come, first serve basis around 6 p.m. Friday at the First Street Plaza during the Tree Lighting ceremony, committee member Mike Gray said.
The gesture is just one of many promotional events the committee worked to provide Albany County residents and visitors throughout 2018, Gray said.
Starting the year off with a 150th birthday event in May, Laramie’s sesquicentennial anniversary incorporated art exhibits, historical seminars, a rifle raffle and exercise initiative.
“Our kickoff event started May 4 at the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historical site,” said Todd Feezer, Laramie Parks and Recreation Department director and committee member. “We invited all the fourth- and fifth-grade students from around Albany County to come and learn about Albany County’s history.”
Gov. Matt Mead, the Laramie City Council, Albany County Commission and several other government representatives attended the weekend celebration, which included a Cinco de Mayo exhibit honoring the hispanic contribution to the area’s history.
“They had some music and a lecture series at the prison as well as a fine art exhibit at the Historic Depot,” Feezer said. “We chose that weekend, because that was when the first train rolled into town — May 4, 1868.”
Instead of investing all the committee’s efforts in one event, Gray said they acted in support of numerous events throughout the year, providing volunteers and 150th anniversary promotional materials to organizers, allowing each event to have it’s own take on the celebration.
“From day one, everyone was so excited about the anniversary that they wanted to be a part of it,” he explained.
Feezer said the community buy in of volunteers and event organizers throughout the year helped ensure everyone was represented in the anniversary.
“If we only had one event, people might have missed out,” he said. “Instead, each group took care of their own events and we offered support.”
Leading up to Laramie Jubilee Days, the committee ordered special flags with the 150th anniversary logo, which were flown throughout Laramie, and hosted a rifle raffle.
Laramie Parks and Recreation Department Ice and Fitness Program Director and committee member Devin Stalder said the raffle came about after Wellington LTD, a collectable firearms maker, reached out via social media with a request to be part of the celebration.
“Originally, we were going to buy the rifle from Jim Combs, Wellington’s owner, but he ended up donating it to us, which was amazing,” Stalder said, explaining the rifle was valued at about $3,000. “We ended up raising about $3,500 with the raffle and the Governor was present to draw the winning ticket. But the best part was when a 6-year-old girl won it. The look on her face was priceless.”
Several walking and biking tours were organized throughout the summer in coordination with the anniversary including multiple cemetery tours, where actors portrayed Albany County’s most notable dead, and a brothel tour of Laramie’s long-since-closed houses of ill repute.
For those with a mind to participate in Albany County history without strolling downtown, Feezer said the Laramie Community Recreation Center hosted Run the Rails.
“People were awarded points for coming into the rec center and logging varied levels of working out,” he said. “Participants received points for their participation, which were equated to miles along the Transcontinental Railroad from New York to Sacramento.”
About 300 people participated, earning prizes like water bottles and stickers along the way. Approximately 50 people completed the months-long event, earning a T-shirt for their efforts.”
In total, the committee raised about $30,000 throughout the year from various donors and fundraisers. Stalder said the money was used to fund promotional materials, support event organizers and host anniversary events.
As Laramie’s 150th year comes to a close, Feezer said some funds were left over.
“We were frugal enough that we are able to forward some of the funding to 150th anniversary celebration of women’s suffrage next year,” he said.
All told, the trio said the committee viewed the year as a great success.
“We have such a great history and this gave us an opportunity to tell people about how we came from a rough-and-tumble town to what we are today,” Gray said.