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Marking time

North Liberty celebrates a century

By Lori Lindner
North Liberty Leader

NORTH LIBERTY– North Liberty’s 100th birthday came with some unexpected gifts that will keep on giving.
Throughout 2013, the community celebrated North Liberty’s centennial year with monthly events that both commemorated the past and reveled the present. A little more surprising were the plans and visions for an improved future that resulted from the conversations and planning that took place over the last 12 months, said Assistant City Administrator and Centennial Committee member Tracey Mulcahey.
“We have developed some community recognition programs, like our North Liberty Hall of Fame, and we are looking at doing a youth recognition program in the spring, which both sprang directly from the centennial planning,” Mulcahey said. “We looked for ways to acknowledge the positive things that were going on in our community, and to keep celebrating those like we have in the last year.”
The year-long celebration included small activities like an ice-cream flavor contest, community valentine making and a historic house walk, and bigger events like a youth triathlon, a tree planting in the city’s new Centennial Park, a community-wide picnic in July and a birthday bash concert with heavy-hitting rock tribute band Hairball. The observances culminated on Nov. 16 with a variety of family-friendly events from morning until night. To start the day, the North Liberty Community Library held its annual fundraiser, an all-you-can-eat waffle breakfast, followed by children’s activities in the North Liberty Community Center and library. Remarks by Mulcahey, North Liberty Mayor Tom Salm and Centennial Committee Chair councilor Terry Donahue officially opened the festivities, with birthday cake, a kids’ mural painting sponsored by Great Western Bank, birthday card crafting with MidWestOne Bank and the chance to create individual time capsules sponsored by North Liberty Television. Contents of a community time capsule were on display, and will be placed in a real time capsule vessel to be situated in city hall and sealed until 2113.
At noon, committee members unveiled a new mural in the North Liberty Community Library that depicts past and present life in North Liberty. Artist Bounnak Thammavong was on hand at the unveiling, and a thorough description of the piece was available for viewers who wanted a better understanding of the elements in the painting. The mural provided inspiration for another future program, Mulcahey added, designed to support visual arts endeavors in the community.
Finally, the community was invited to a red carpet gala, with drinks, dinner and entertainment by pianist Eben Seamon.
Mulcahey said the centennial committee had about 25 standing members, but each occasion garnered even more assistanc. All told, about 300 volunteers came together throughout the year to organize and conduct the celebratory events.
“Someone recently asked me how many people we touched throughout the year,” Mulcahey said. “I reflected on that, and we had probably over 1,500 people who attended or were involved in our events.”
It was a unique way to memorialize North Liberty’s growth and progress, Mulcahey concluded.
“Not many people get the opportunity to help their community celebrate a 100th birthday, let alone for an entire year. We had a lot of cool events that have been great for the community.”