ELLSWORTH — The celebration of Acadia National Park’s centennial in 2016 will be as much about looking ahead as looking back, park Superintendent Sheridan Steele said at a meeting of the Acadia Centennial Partners here on Monday.
“I hope it will be a great celebration, but also a real kick-off … to help us position ourselves for a great second hundred years,” he said.
David MacDonald, president of Friends of Acadia, echoed that thought: “This effort will make the park stronger and more resilient for the challenges that are going to come, be they government shutdowns or sequesters or stock market crashes. The way all our organizations are pitching in is really going to affect the park for the second century.”
More than 100 people representing area organizations and businesses attended Monday’s event at the Moore Community Center.
Cookie Horner and Jack Russell are co-chairmen of the 17-member Acadia Centennial Task Force, which is in charge of planning the celebration. They reported that there already are 115 official centennial partners – organizations, institutions, businesses and individuals – and they expect to have 250. They also are looking to have at least 10 “signature” sponsors who contribute $10,000 or more each.
The celebration will consist of numerous events and activities throughout 2016, but primarily next summer. Russell said many of the activities would promote education, conservation and scientific endeavors in the park. One of the themes, he said, will be “science for Acadia, science from Acadia.”
The main event of the centennial celebration is set for the lawn at Jordan Pond House on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016.
“We will invite the first family, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Director [Jonathan Jarvis] of the National Park Service and our Maine congressional delegation,” Horner said. “The Obamas were here in 2010 and had a great time in the park. So, we hope they will return and participate in the celebration … .”
Horner said a 100-member chorus would lead celebrants in singing “America the Beautiful” and “This Land is Your Land.”
“And we hope to swear in a hundred Junior Rangers, mostly children from Acadia’s surrounding communities, and to honor those families who have donated land to and helped to build Acadia’s trails, roads and bridges.”
Another event, the Somes Sound Centennial Windjammer Parade, will take place Aug. 2.
“We’re expecting eight or nine windjammers, and there will be guests on board who are coming for the whole week,” said Meg Maiden of the Maine Windjammers Association. “Among the ships that will be there is the Lewis R. French, the oldest commercial sailing vessel in continuous service in America. One hundred years ago, when the park was established, she was sailing out of MDI.”
The ship is now based in Camden.
Next year is the 100th birthday not only of Acadia but also of the National Park Service.
“The effort to celebrate the National Park Service centennial has kind of stalled, if you will; not much is getting done,” Steele told those at Monday’s meeting. “I really think the Acadia centennial effort is much better organized and more likely to have a great success than what’s going on in Washington.”