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Star-spangled celebration focuses on the future

Plans for nation’s 250th revealed at Flag Day ceremony

Members of the Altoona Fire Department Honor Guard present the colors during the Flag Day ceremonies at Heritage Plaza on Tuesday afternoon. Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski

At Altoona’s annual Flag Day celebration Tuesday in Heritage Plaza, Blair County Controller A.C. Stickel introduced attendees to a local group’s ongoing plans for a much bigger celebration linked to another, bigger holiday.

Those plans are focused on July 4, 2026, so there’s time to learn to pronounce “semiquincentennial” — the 250th anniversary of the nation’s founding.

Stickel, who was Tuesday’s keynote speaker, is one of about 20 members of the America250PA Blair County Commission.

The semiquincentennial celebration will be “EPIC,” according to commission website:

Designed to Educate the community on this area’s history, to Preserve that history, to Innovate in order to improve the community and to Celebrate the area and its people.

Attendees of the Flag Day ceremonies at Heritage Plaza honor the flag during the playing of the national anthem as members of the Altoona Fire Department Honor Guard presents the colors on Tuesday afternoon. Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski

Commission members include historians, business people, representatives from the Blair Chamber of Commerce, the Altoona Blair County Development Corp., the Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation, Penn State Altoona, the Altoona Area School District, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Sons of the American Revolution, Fort Roberdeau and veterans’ groups, plus unaffiliated individuals, said Stickel, whose talk on Tuesday was focused on love of the flag.

Among commission goals are the planting of a Liberty Tree, Stickel said.

Liberty trees are seedlings or offshoots from any of the trees in various colonies where American revolutionaries gathered to plot the future at the time of the Revolutionary War, according to Stickel.

A project sponsored by the state of Maryland comprises planting seedlings from a 400-year-old tulip poplar that was an original liberty tree in Annapolis, and that was damaged by a storm and removed in 1999, according to online sources, including a National Park Service web page.

The Blair commission also hopes to raise $15,000 to acquire and decorate a fiberglass replica of the Liberty Bell, according to Stickel.

And some commission members are working on a book dealing with Revolutionary history, Stickel said.

“Those are the only things in concrete,” he said.

It will be four years until the anniversary day, but a commission website feature seems designed to instill urgency: a countdown clock.

As of 8:02 p.m. Tuesday, there were only 1,480 days, 16 minutes and 20 — no, 19, 18, 17…. seconds left.

The commission website, https://america250pablair.org, includes requests for volunteers, ideas, sponsorships, donations and event-planning suggestions.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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