Town’s 150th celebration put on hold

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STYMIED BY COVID-19

Officials from Mount Olive, the second-largest town in Wayne County, have decided to postpone its 150th anniversary celebration until 2021.

The decision comes while the country continues to battle the COVID-19 crisis that has caused distress, taken lives and crippled the economy.

“We agonized a great deal, we talked about it a lot,” said Ken Dilda, who serves on the 150th committee and is with the Mount Olive Historical Society.

“For a while, we were doing it [canceling events] on a month-by-month basis, just waiting to see what the [virus] news was. Then we decided that it was just best to postpone everything and start over next year.

“We’ll try again.”

The year-long fete started March 1 with an opening ceremony that commemorated the town’s original charter date in 1870. The committee had planned a series of events in partnership with the town’s historical society and Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce, Steele Memorial Library, the award-winning NC Pickle Festival, local churches and other organizations.

The virus pandemic disrupted the sesquicentennial observance.

In mid-March, co-chairs Lynn Williams and Julie Beck announced the cancellation of the 34th annual Pickle Festival. Their decision preceded an executive “stay-at-home” order from Gov. Roy Cooper.

The 150th committee has not determined a new celebration date. Dilda speculated it could be March 1, 2021.

The original celebration agenda is expected to change, too, particularly the time capsule burial scheduled for Dec. 4. Dilda said momentos from the Pickle Festival, coverage of the town’s history in the Tribune and news about the coronavirus are just some of the contents planned for the time capsule.

“Those are things that come to mind,” Dilda said. “It certainly could be expanded and there could be adjustments to the original schedule.

“[The virus] has had an economic impact, but it’s also affected people’s spirit, morale and I’m hoping we’ll be at a point next year that we’ll be able to lift those spirits, get back to some sense of normalcy and do the things we had planned to do this year.

“It’s been a difficult time for everyone.”

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