Most of the events at the celebration will be free.
COLUMBIANA -- When Columbiana starts its bicentennial later this week, tradition will be served in a big way.
The town's 200th birthday will be marked by some of the usual types of civic celebration during the observance starting Friday and ending July 4 -- a food and crafts festival, band concerts, a parade and a big fireworks display.
But there will be some out-of-the-ordinary activities, too -- try a synchronized swimming exhibition and the screening of some historic "home movies" of the town's past.
"Our goal was to have activities that would reach all citizens and make it affordable for everyone," said Greg Sprouse, a resident for almost 30 years. He and his wife, Melanie, have led the organizing committee for the bicentennial.
"We just wanted to make sure that this special birthday for our town didn't go uncelebrated," Sprouse said.
Almost all of the events in the celebration are free. It begins Friday evening with a Civil War re-enactors encampment at Firestone Park that will last for the entire four days and include interactive displays and battles.
Sprouse said he expects about 200 units to be entered in an opening night parade, including classic cars that will also be on display at Firestone Park afterward.
A costume ball at Das Dutch Village Inn will close the first night's events.
"A lot of ladies are already working on their dresses or ball gowns," Sprouse said. "We're looking for costumes from 1805 to the present day, anything from pioneers to the '50s."
Tickets for the ball are $25 per person.
Historical home movies
One of Saturday's highlights will be a free showing of historical movies at the Columbiana Cinema. Sprouse said these films were discovered in the office of the Columbiana/Fairfield Historical Society and show street scenes and other aspects of daily life in Columbiana in the 1930s and 1940s.
"We have no idea who took them," Sprouse said. "The historical society found them in their offices and sent them off to have them examined whether they were in good enough condition to be shown. It's a good look at our history, with pictures of some of the old businesses in town."
A bicentennial craft and food festival will be on Main Street from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. It's sponsored by the Columbiana Rotary Club. And Heartland Christian School, located in the old Columbiana High building, will host a bicentennial variety and talent show at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students.
Sunday's activities include a community picnic and a community-wide church service at Firestone Stadium.
An aquatic tradition
A synchronized swimming exhibition by girls from the Firestone Area Swimming Team will be at the Firestone Pool between noon and 1 p.m.
"That's another tradition in our community," Sprouse said. "There's been a strong interest in swimming and active programs since the '60s. Not many towns our size have their own synchronized swimming team." The bicentennial, which has been in the planning stages since the community organized for Ohio's state bicentennial in 2003, will conclude Monday with an all-day Fourth of July celebration.
Sprouse hopes visitors will get a sense of how residents feel about the town when they visit.
"I think residents and businesses take great pride in our town," he said. "We have flags flying, gardens growing and flowers planted all over town, and people say 'hello' to you. We hope people feel like they're coming home when they come here."
For more information, visit the Columbiana Chamber of Commerce's Web site at www.columbianachamber.com.