The Village of Sunbury’s Bicentennial Celebration is coming to an end. On November 9, 1816, Lawrence and William Myers platted the central core of old Sunbury. That same year the Myers brothers platted a cemetery, the Sunbury Burying Ground, outside of the new village.
Today that cemetery, now named Sunbury Memorial Park, is well within the village limits.
While still technically a village, Sunbury is merely waiting for a formal designation as the City of Sunbury. The village population already exceeds the magic number of 5,000 residents needed to become a city, but that population figure needs to be established by a formal census.
With Census 2020 only a few years out, Sunbury Village Council members and village administrators are already preparing for the challenges that accompany city status. There have even been discussions about the village establishing a charter form of government prior to 2020.
But that’s all in the future. The bicentennial has been about Sunbury’s 200th Birthday Celebration. Over the past year members of the Sunbury Bicentennial Committee, with leadership from the Village of Sunbury Administration, the Big Walnut Civic Association, and the Big Walnut Area Historical Society, incorporated a bicentennial theme when planning village events.
The year kicked off with the selection of Sunbury’s Bicentennial Princess. In December of 2015 a Bicentennial Princess Pageant was held on the second floor of Sunbury Town Hall, with 13 young ladies vying for the princess crown. When the proverbial dust settled, Brooke Setmire was crowned as the Village of Sunbury Bicentennial Princess.
As Sunbury’s Bicentennial Princess, Brooke represented the village during all bicentennial events during 2016. Brooke began her reign as Bicentennial Princess by riding in a convertible during the 2015 Christmas on the Square Parade; she ended her reign riding in the 2016 Christmas on the Square Parade.
Sunbury’s Independence Day Celebration was expanded into a three-day Bicentennial Bash, with a Saturday Fourth of July Parade, a Sunday Community Picnic on Historic Sunbury Square, and on Monday a traditional fireworks display at Big Walnut High School.
Sunbury Sizzle & Sounds, a late August food and music festival, featured music through the decades as a bicentennial treat; and the 2016 Village of Sunbury Christmas on the Square featured not only a bicentennial theme, but also celebrated Forman Realty’s 50th Anniversary with an old-fashioned beard growing contest and a cookie and candy baking contest.
Throughout the year Myers Inn Museum Curator Polly Horn shared Sunbury history with a series of articles, Because You Asked; and Community Library featured bicentennial-related displays in the library’s display cases.
With Sunbury’s 200th Birthday celebration now in the history book, today’s younger folks can look forward to, and begin planning for, the village’s next landmark birthday celebration when Sunbury turns 250 years old – the Village of Sunbury Bicenquinquagenary.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.