Happy 200th: Columbiana takes a step back in time

The celebration took two years to plan.
COLUMBIANA -- The city turned back the clock Friday night, opening its four-day bicentennial celebration with parades, pomp and pageantry.
Festivities started with a Civil War encampment at Firestone Park and continued with a parade hosted by the Columbiana Volunteer Fire Department. After the parade, several hundred residents moved to Firestone Stadium for music and opening ceremonies.
Between the uniform-clad Civil War re-enactors and folks dressed in period attire for Friday night's costume ball, it was easy to lose track of time.
Before the opening ceremony, Mariellen and Philip Steiner sat on the bleachers at the stadium, lamenting the warm weather.
"I guess people back then dressed like this all the time, so they were used to it," Mariellen Steiner said, using a paper fan to create a breeze.
She made her costume, a burgundy cotton print. She went for authenticity too, her friend Melanie Sprouse pointed out, gently lifting her friend's skirt.
"Look," Sprouse said, "she's even wearing bloomers."
Mariellen Steiner made her husband's costume too. With knickers and a gray tapestry vest, he looked as if he could have walked straight from the frontier. His hat was a last-minute addition to the costume, he explained. It was a regular Amish hat, with the sides pinned up.
The Steiners were among those headed for the costume ball later in the evening. First, they enjoyed a short program that started with wild cheers when event organizer Jeff Sprouse, dressed in tuxedo and top hat, announced to the crowd: "Happy 200th birthday!"
The bicentennial celebration, which continues through Monday, took two years to plan, Sprouse said.
"We started with a pocket full of dreams," he said. "And that was literally all we had. We didn't have two nickels to rub together."
Sprouse said planners stuck to a goal of a "spirit of unity and pride" and tried to provide events for everyone to enjoy.
Only two events have an admission charge, he added.
"We're making history here," he said. "Laugh a little more heartily, whistle a happy tune and walk with a lift in your step. We are responsible for keeping Columbiana's history alive."
Events continue today with a craft and food fair on Main Street from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and historical movies of the town at the Columbiana Cinema from 1 to 3 p.m. An open house is set from 6 to 7 p.m. at Heartland Christian School, with a variety show afterward from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

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