Lexington's 150th Celebration: A Festive Milestone (2024)

Jose Perez

Lexington marked a significant milestone with its 150th anniversary celebration, a three-day event that brought together residents and visitors to commemorate the town's rich history and vibrant community.

From athletic competitions and theatrical performances to parades and fireworks, the sesquicentennial festivities showcased Lexington's community spirit and cultural heritage.

The celebration commenced Friday afternoon with the Plum Creek 5K Run/Walk. Despite sweltering 90-degree weather, over 120 participants participated. City Parks and Recreation Manager Jake Saulsbury organized the event, which included additional challenges and fun facts about Lexington posted along the route.

The race started and ended at the Plum Creek Racquet Center, with the course taking runners west on West 13th Street, north through the Hitting Complex, and looping through West 20th and Patriot Drive before heading south on North Adams Street back to the Racquet Center.

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Herson Rodriguez, 17, emerged victorious with a time of 16:45. Rodriguez, a member of Lexington's cross-country team, expressed pride in his town's diversity and welcoming community.

Libby Sadd of Holdrege won the female division with a time of 24:41, She said she appreciated the course's uniqueness and the community's warmth.

Following the 5K, the Plum Creek Community Players entertained the crowd with their melodrama, “The Paper Bag Bandit Rides Again,” at the Lexington Middle School Auditorium. This free event captivated the audience with its blend of humor and drama.

Saturday's events began with the Grand Parade in downtown Lexington at 10 a.m., organized by El Camino Pathway to Develop Leaders. Despite the chilly and windy morning, a large crowd gathered to enjoy the colorful procession celebrating Lexington's heritage. The parade featured floats, free candy, beach balls, ice pops and refreshments provided by local businesses like Edgewater Insurance + Real Estate and Madeline’s Café & Bakery.

At noon, families flocked to Kirkpatrick Memorial Park for the Family Fun Fest, sponsored by United by Culture Media. The fest featured 37 vendors, games, food stalls, and live entertainment.

Community member Paloma Valero, who served as the emcee, welcomed attendees in both English and Spanish, while DJ EddyMix provided musical entertainment for three hours.

Glayds Godinez, one of the co-founders of United by Culture Media, said she moved to Lexington when she was 12 years old and graduated from Lexington High School in 2000.

After years of being away from Lexington, she came back in 2016 and later established United by Culture Media.

Talking about being one of the many people who helped withthe Lexington150th Celebration, Godinez said, “First, I want to thank the Lexington community because this wouldn't have been possible without them."

She said the Lexington Chamber of Commerce did a survey asking what community members wanted to happen for the 150th celebration. Many people voiced their ideas to have a culture festival.

During the festival, Godinezsaid, she wanted community members to recognize the Pawnee Nation, as they were the first group to settle on the land before the community now known as Lexington existed.

Reflecting on her favorite memories in Lexington, Godinez said she was proud to be one of the co-founders of a high school group named Nuestro Futuro (Our Future), focusing on changing the narrative of how Latinos are portrayed in the Lexington area, and starting the United by Culture festivals.

While talking about being proud representing Lexington, Godinez also said, “I have experienced negative things in Lexington and I think everybody's experiences are warranted and need to be acknowledged.

“So I acknowledge if anyone has had a bad experience in Lexington, but the hope here is to change that, not only for ourselves, but for our kids and our community. That is my hope.”

Godinez expressed gratitude for everyone who helped with the Family Fun Fest — partners, sponsors, volunteers and vendors. "I really want to acknowledge them all because this event is not about me, it's not just one person, it’s about everyone that came through.”

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During the Family Fun Fest event, The Lexington Veterans Pavilion was formally dedicated at 1 p.m. with an overflow crowd.

Jim Bliven, an Army veteran and committee member of the pavilion project, expressed how surprised and grateful he was with the turnout at the event.

Bilven shared with the crowd how the idea for the pavilion started and some of the obstacles that happened along the way. He thanked his committee members, the Lexington community and everyone who donated to the project.

The pavilion includes a pentagon-shaped sidewalk with each of the five points having information about the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines.

Lexington Mayor John fa*got encouraged the audience to check out these points. A QR code at each location provides a link to learn more about each branch.

In the afternoon, history enthusiasts gathered at the Dawson County Museum to hear Jim Reisdorff's presentation, which provided insights into the area's past.

Meanwhile, the Lexington Public Library hosted author Carlos R. Servan at 3:30 p.m. for a talk about his book, "Running Dreams," as part of the “One Book, One Lexington” program.

Servan spoke about his upbringing in Lima, Peru; the struggles of coming to America and learning another language besides Spanish; and how his life changed after he became blind.

While giving highlights of his book and his life, Servan shared with the audience how he continues to make a difference in life despite his limitations by being a member of the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Servan also reminded people in the crowd that those in the blind community should not be seen as a burden in Nebraska or in any part of the world.

As dusk fell, the sky above Kirkpatrick Memorial Park lit up with a fireworks display, serving as a climax to a day filled with celebration.

The final day of celebrations began with an encore performance of the melodrama. Miguel Jaimes, one of the cast members of the “The Paper Bag Bandit Rides Again” spoke with the Clipper-Herald after Sunday’s performance.

Jaimes, a Lexington native, said he was motivated by his brother Daniel to audition for the melodrama.

“I’ve never done a play before. The preparation was hectic since I didn’t realize how much work goes into a melodrama,” Jaimes said. “I wanted to do a good job and not let my brother Daniel, my family or the people of Lexington down during the 150th anniversary.”

Jaimes said he was grateful for the people who took the time to see the performances.

"Just do it," Jaimes simply said, to people who are hesitant to be in a melodrama in the future. “It’s a great way to meet new people and get out of your comfort zone.”

Reflecting on his proudest moments while living in Lexington, Jaimes said getting hired to work for the City of Lexington is his top memory.

“Working for them really gives me a perspective on the different parts of Lexington," he said, "and knowing that I’m one of the people that’s keeping my city beautiful is an honor.”

He thanked City Manager Joe Pepplitsch for giving him the chance to work for the City of Lexington.

Jaimes said he is “very, very proud” of being a Lexington native, and when he travels he likes to wear a hat that says “City of Lexington.”

The 150th anniversary celebration concluded Sunday afternoon with a community worship service hosted by the Lexington Ministerial Association at the Veterans Pavilion.

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Lexington's 150th Celebration: A Festive Milestone (2024)
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