Jan. 17th ‘300th birthday party’ set for Beaufort; Founders’ Night kickoff a rousing success

With booming fireworks serving as candles for the cake, Beaufort’s Founders’ Night on New Year’s Eve kicked off a yearlong celebration of the city’s 300th birthday.

Internationally-known singer Marlena Smalls sang and produced the event which featured choirs from Carteret Street United Methodist and Tabernacle Baptist churches, Sea Island Presbyterian’s Charlie Frost and local actor and publisher Jeff Evans dressed in character as John “Tuscarora Jack” Barnwell, one of Beaufort’s founders in 1711.

Crowds filled the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park New Year’s Eve and left smiling – and ready for the next event, another Waterfront Park party on Beaufort’s actual birthday, Jan. 17.

That event, from 4:30 – 6 p.m., will celebrate Beaufort’s history and its connection to the military. Featured guests include the Parris Island Marine Corps Band, military color guard, and other entertainment. Admission is free to the family-themed event. Lawn chairs or blankets are encouraged for comfortable seating.

On New Year’s Eve, Marlena Smalls led the Tricentennial Founders’ Night with “a musical tour through the history of Beaufort.” Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling spoke of the city’s role in America’s history, and State Rep. Shannon Erickson presented the City with a framed resolution from the South Carolina General Assembly. Deborah Johnson, who directed the Beaufort Three Century Project, shared their work. And then Tuscarora Jack took the stage…

John “Tuscarora Jack” Barnwell came to the Province of South Carolina from Dublin, Ireland, in 1701 to see his fortune. After 10 years of rice farming, he helped create Beaufort’s original charter. He later led colonists against Indian uprisings in what’s now Beaufort County and also in North Carolina. Barnwell died in Beaufort in 1724 and is buried in the St. Helena Episcopal Church graveyard.

Beaufort was founded in 1711 by the English, although its beginnings date back to Spanish explorers in 1514. Beaufort was named for Englishman Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort (1684-1714), one of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina.

Between the narration of Beaufort’s history by Jeff Evans / Tuscarora Jack, musicians and singers provided the era-appropriate backdrop, including “Old Man River” sung by Ron Thacker, “Summertime” by Marlena Smalls and the Simply Grand Band, the rousing “When the Saints Go Marching In” by the choirs and audience, “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” by Margaret Evans and “The Impossible Dream” by Michael McFee.

“Three hundred years is an awesome amount of time to conceive and understand,” Keyserling said. “At the same time as we move our community forward, it is critical that we understand our past so that we do not become ‘anywhere USA.’”

Erickson praised the Founders’ Night party. “It was a great evening – so many friends, great weather, fabulous music and superb fireworks! Thanks to all who made it a night to remember,” she said.

Erin Dean, chair of the Tricentennial Committee, coordinated the event with the help of others on the committee.

Other events are planned throughout the year to recognize the historic milestone of 300 years. Regularly-occurring festivals such as the Gullah Festival, Water Festival and Shrimp Festival also will involve Tricentennial themes. For more information, join Beaufort Tricentennial on Facebook or visit www.cityofbeaufort.org.

Also, Beaufort 300 continues to seek contributors. For a $300 investment in Beaufort’s future, donors’ names will be featured on a permanent historical monument in the Waterfront Park. Corporate sponsorships also are available. For more information, visit www.cityofbeaufort.org. Money raised by the venture will underwrite the historical monument of Beaufort’s Tricentennial; corporate donations are needed to help cover costs of various Tricentennial celebrations during 2011, Dean said.

 

Tricentennial Birthday Party

January 17, 2011

4:30 – 6:00 PM

Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park

Featuring the Marine Corps Band

A Salute to Beaufort

 

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