ITHACA – Ithaca residents have a big celebration planned this weekend to note the town’s sesquicentennial.
Activities are scheduled Saturday and Sunday to celebrate the 150 years since Ithaca was established in 1869.
Saturday starts off with an 8 a.m. breakfast at the village hall, followed by a 9 a.m. car and tractor show. The car and tractor show will be on main street until 11 a.m.
A memorial park bench dedication is set for 11 a.m. by the village hall. The bench, as well as an eagle statue that will be placed at Indian Mound Cemetery is in memory of Pfc. Douglas J. Winchell Jr.
Winchell was a machine gunner with C. Co., 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry, serving in Vietnam in 1969. According to previous newspaper accounts, he was wounded while moving an injured soldier to cover. Under intense hostile fire, he returned to evacuate another casualty and in doing so was mortally wounded.
Sam Winchell of Wahoo, one of Winchell’s remaining siblings, said the family wanted to do something to honor and remember their brother. Their mother accepted the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and other awards on Winchell’s behalf during a ceremony for the town’s centennial celebration.
So, she said it seemed fitting to do something special like the bench dedication during this weekend’s celebration. Although living in several states, the siblings will be in Ithaca Saturday for the dedication.
At 11:15 a.m. A parade will step off. Parade Organizer Mary Bergan said anyone is welcome to participate in the parade, which will begin line up at 10:45 a.m. near Indian Mound Cemetery in northeast Ithaca.
Parade grand marshal will be Joe Murray, former Ithaca mayor and the town’s oldest resident.
A special entry in the parade will be a group from the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War.
Bergan said the Sons of the Union Veterans will be arriving in Ithaca on Friday evening to set up a re-enactment camp. They will camp in town overnight, have living history camps during the day on Saturday and will march in the parade.
The parade will be announced by Ithaca Native Jay Izso. The consultant, speaker and writer returns home this weekend to help the town celebrate and promote his new book, Lessons from the Farm. Following the parade, Izso will have a book signing.
After lunch in the village hall, bingo is planned. Ithaca Resident Dwight Hanson will give a talk about the town at 2 p.m. There will also be a raffle and games.
The Smithaca Grain elevator will be open from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The Wauhoo Ploughboys will be at the ballfield at 4 p.m. to take on the Ithaca Ducks. The vintage baseball game will follow the rules of late 1800s.
Saturday will be capped with a beer garden and street dance, featuring the sounds of Smithaca Sound.
Sunday’s activities start off with a 9:45 a.m. community church service at Ithaca United Methodist Church.
A presentation at Indian Mound Cemetery will take place at 11 a.m. Special dousing rods will be available for those wishing to do some grave detection.
Izso will have a special presentation and another book signing in the afternoon. This will take place at 2 p.m. at the Saunders County Museum in Wahoo.
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Bergan said the town got its name from the place one of the founders came from – Ithaca, N.Y. To recognize the Nebraska town’s sesquicentennial, letters were sent to the five other towns in the U.S. also named Ithaca. The leadership from Ithacas in New York, Georgia and Michigan responded with certificates of congratulations.