Monday, July 17, 2006

Celebrating 100 Years

g-unity 07-15-06
COPYRIGHT LJM 2006

GARY--Hundreds settled in for sausage, grits, eggs, biscuits and
gravy Saturday morning at the Gary Centennial Unity Breakfast held
inside the Genesis Center. There was a cheerful buzz in the room
about anything from the massive steel sculpture, the Fusion--which
would later be dedicated--to the glee at seeing old colleagues.
It was a time where many reflected on how far the city has come and
where it is heading.
"This day means strength, pride and accomplishments. We've been here
100 years and it's still going strong and we're looking forward to
growth and opportunity," Mirna Gonzalez said. She stood in line with
her husband, Naftali--a retired Gary fireman--in one of several
gigantic breakfast buffets spread around the open auditorium.
"I've been here since 1964", her husband, said.
They also brought their grandson.
"We wanted him to experience part of the history", Mirna Gonzalez said.
Many expressed curiosity about their city and wanted to get to know
Gary in another way.
"We have a great city here that very few people know anything about,"
Rufus Purnell said. He bought a 455 page hard-bound copy of "Gary
Indiana A Centennial Celebration" that was on sale at the event.
There was a mix of politician and average citizen at the breakfast
and everyone mingled.
"I believe the city of Gary has a very rich history and the history
is in the people," Gary City Clerk Suzette Raggs said.
Dharathula Millender, founder of the Gary Historical Society, stood
just ahead of Raggs with a member of the Gary Historical Society.
Millender was reconnecting with old friends.
"(I'm keeping) in contact with all ethnic groups, which is evident,"
Millender said, pointing to her friend and colleague, Carolyn Lisek,
whose father was a Gary business owner. Lisek is a member of the
Historical Society.
"I wanted to see what this was all about," Lisek said.
Dorthia Battle said she was glad to see the city come together for
the event. She sang with the Family Christian Center Choir, as a part
of the celebration.
The Rev. Dr. Stephan Munsey, pastor of Family Christian Center in
Munster, said his speech would span the past, present and future of
Gary. He also said Gary is an unusual city.
"Our society came in here 168,000 strong at the time of the
Industrial Revolution. No city or government can begin to understand
how to equip those many people. It was like fast money coming in one
day, going out the next," he said.
"We found ourselves in the 60s. The explosion began to come to a head
and we found we were really not ready as a city, when the winds of
the storm came. Many people disbanded and didn't know what to do. No
one is critical of the leadership--they did the best we could. I read
the history. We must do again what Mr. Gary did when nothing was here
and he said, 'something's going to happen.'" he said.
Some in attendance already had Mr. Gary's idea in mind. There were
vendors outside of the Genesis Center who had anything from snow
cones to memorabilia for sale. It seemed to show an appreciation for
the city's 100th birthday.
"I love Gary, Indiana. This is the start of something big. With the
influx of people we have from other communities such as
Chicago--that's generating a different kind of interest that people
thought we'd never have in this city. And I really love the Fusion,"
Eric Johnson, Public Affairs Director, WGVE 88.7 said.
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