W.Va. ready to celebrate its 150th

CHARLESTON (AP) – West Virginia will celebrate its 150th birthday with concerts, parades, a 3-D movie projected on the steps of the state Capitol and fireworks shot from the roof of the state Capitol, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Thursday.

The sesquicentennial celebration will open with a statewide bell ringing at 1:50 p.m. on June 20 in recognition of 150 years of statehood. That evening, a Thursday, will be the first of three straight nights of fireworks.

The West Virginia Symphony and the Appalachian Children’s Chorus will perform concerts Thursday night.

Saturday, June 22, will feature a parade through Charleston, free sternwheeler rides on the Kanawha River, a chili cook-off, a vintage car show, Civil War re-enactors, a food and craft festival and a giant birthday cake for the state.

“Civil War,” a Broadway musical, will perform for three straight nights at the Culture Center in Charleston.

Tomblin, flanked by students from Geneva Kent Elementary in Huntington, announced the plans for the celebration on the steps of the state Capitol.

“It’s a big day not just for our state but for our country. One hundred fifty years ago our nation was torn apart, divided by the Civil War,” Tomblin said. “Despite being born during one of the lowest points in our nation’s history we joined together and created the great state of West Virginia.”

The 3-D movie will be projected onto the steps and columns of the Capitol using the same technology that was used at the Queen’s Jubilee in London, Tomblin said.

In 2009, then-Gov. Joe Manchin appointed a sesquicentennial commission made up primarily of historians and scholars to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry, the formation of the state and other events.

Senate Majority Leader John Unger represents the Legislature on that commission. Originally funded with $100,000, the commission will serve through 2015.

After Virginia voted to secede from the Union in 1861, West Virginia began a two year process of seceding from Virginia. Unger noted that West Virginia is the only state to secede from a confederate state, that’s why there is a sculpture of President Lincoln in front of the Capitol.