Celebrating 200 years

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    PENDLETON — Deb Tozer said when she was growing up in Pendleton, she was always looking for ways to leave town.
    Recently, as a wife and mom, she saw this past weekend — specifically with the Pendleton Bicentennial Celebration planned — as an important time to head back home.
    “You begin to appreciate just the idea of the roots of a small town like this … the meaning of family and friends,” said Tozer, who made the trip from Parker, Colorado, with her husband, Tony Keever, and three children, Sam, 17; Luke, 15; and Logan, 11.
    “I want other people to feel that, which is why I drug my family back.”
    The appreciation for Pendleton was on full display this past week, at several events, but especially during the bicentennial celebration Sunday afternoon in Falls Park.

    Story continues under photos.

    The occasion was delayed a year because of COVID-19, but that didn’t seem to diminish its significance to the scores of people who gathered to look back on two centuries of history, and look forward with a nod of appreciation to those responsible for recently completed bicentennial Legacy Projects.
    Boy Scout Troop 232 conducted a flag ceremony, and Town Council President Chet Babb welcomed people to an event that was “a year in the making, twice.”
    After Pendleton Police Chief Marc Farrer gave praise to past PPD leaders and the town, and his fiancee Sammi Thatcher sang the national anthem, Kevin Kenyon, chairman of Historic Fall Creek, Pendleton Settlement, delivered a timeline of Pendleton history. It ranged from 1816 and the arrival of settlers at the falls, to 2020 and tornado recovery efforts, with about 100 significant moments in between.
    He mentioned the establishment of churches, schools, industry and civic organizations, as well as significant historical events, such as the execution of white men for killing American Indians in 1825, and the visit of abolitionist Frederick Douglass in 1843.
    He noted people of local renown, including Thomas Pendleton, who platted the town in 1830, and P.F. Phipps, who helped turn a dumping ground into what is now Falls Park, as well as those of wider renown, including television and film actor William Walker, who graduated from Pendleton High School and appeared in the 1962 film “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
    He finished with several recent developments, including the creation of the Pendleton Artists Society and the historic walking tour through town, and the Memorial Day Tornado and town response.
    Stephen Jackson, Madison County historian, delivered a speech titled “Falls Park — Through My Eyes,” describing what he sees when he looks at the park.
    Near the end, he said, “Who can forget Monday, May 27, 2019?”
    “Residents and first responders reported multiple funnel clouds in the southern part of the county. I can see beautiful and historic Falls Park suffering the worst of the damage as in excess of 100 trees were destroyed.
    “However, there’s an old saying that says, ‘It’s not how you get knocked down, but how you get up.’ At 6 a.m. the following day, I can see volunteers arriving to begin the cleanup — a clear example that the pioneer spirit is still alive and well in Pendleton.”
    Jackson introduced speaker Riley Williams, 12, who shared a short speech about what Pendleton means to her.
    “I’ve lived in many towns before, but it wasn’t until I came to Pendleton that I felt that I was home. But it wasn’t the town that made me feel at home, although the town was beautiful and cozy — it was all of you.”
    She said it seems people in town care about each other, and she cited examples, such as smiles at the farmers market, teachers assigning students to look after new students at school, and efforts to beautify the town and plan events.
    “All of these actions make Pendleton what it truly is, unique and a place you can call home.”
    The ceremony then moved to honor the people and organizations involved with the town’s seven bicentennial Legacy Projects.
    “These projects are really gifts of tomorrow, projects … that will be enjoyed for years and years by our community,” said Jeanette Isbell, a member of the bicentennial committee.
    The projects are (with representative who spoke at ceremony in parentheses and pictured above): Community Building Vestibule — Pendleton Lions Club (Dick Creger, pictured in top-middle photo, front and center); 2020 Library Remodel Project — Pendleton Community Public Library (library Director Lynn Hobbs); Pendleton Recovery Tree Project  — several local and state government agencies, businesses and non-profit organizations (former Pendleton Planning Director Rachel Christenson); Lending Tree Library — Friends of Pendleton Community Library (Friends President Coco Bill); Barnhart Field — Pendleton-Fall Creek Township Park and Recreation Board (board President Bryan Williams); 2020 PHHS Activity Center Facilities Improvements Project — South Madison Community School Corp. (district business manager Ken McCarty); and the Log Cabin Project — Steve and Annie Wills, Jay Brown, Sandi Butler and Historic Fall Creek, Pendleton Settlement (Settlement Vice President Butler, pictured with several other Log Cabin Committee members).
    Kevin Tupps, a Pendleton resident who attended the event, said he thoroughly enjoyed it.
    He said he graduated from Pendleton Heights in 1985, and attended college and worked in Ohio for many years before moving back to Pendleton in 2001.
    “I have quite a connection to Pendleton,” he said. “It’s just that hometown feeling.”
    Tupps, who brought his son to the event, referred to a question posed to the crowd at the ceremony: Who was present at the town’s sesquicentennial event in 1970? Several hands went up.
    Tupps said he thought it was neat to think that someday his son might be at the town’s 250th celebration, and if they ask who was at the bicentennial, he could raise his hand.