Beaufort News

Beaufort kicks off tricentennial celebration with birthday party

It wouldn't be a birthday party without music, cake, cards and entertainment.

The city of Beaufort turns 300 years old today and has invited the public to help celebrate at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park with free festivities from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

"We've been talking a lot about our past and our future; this marks the celebration of the actual day," Mayor Billy Keyserling said. "We're ending one century and starting another."

Today's event includes a concert by the Parris Island Marine Corps Band, a presentation by the color guard and a symbolic gun salute by local Marines.

Volunteers will serve birthday cake created by Southern Graces and featuring the tricentennial logo.

Guests also are encouraged to bring birthday cards for Beaufort that include their dreams and desires for the city's next century.

"We thought we could compile them almost like an archive," City Councilman Mike McFee said. "They could serve as a time capsule of ideas going forward."

Today's celebration marks just one of many events planned in honor of the 300th milestone.

Efforts began about three years ago when Keyserling and a group of volunteers formed the Beaufort Three-Century Project, an organization that has since hosted 42 events and programs to explore and document Beaufort's "cultural memory."

The B3C Project's website, hosted by The Beaufort Gazette, will remain, but the group itself ceases to exist today. Carrying on the celebrations is the Beaufort Tricentennial Committee, which the city formed to plan events throughout 2011, including today's birthday party.

The committee hosted a Founders' Night celebration Dec. 31 and is planning a historical parade at 10 a.m. Sept. 17.

Committee members wanted today's focus to be on the "cooperative relationship this city's always had with the military," said McFee, who serves as a liaison to the committee.

Nearly 100 people have worked with the committee on one or more events, making it a true community effort, McFee said.

Also today, Keyserling will recognize contributors to the committee's ongoing "Beaufort 300" fundraiser.

Launched in November, the "Beaufort 300" seeks 300 people to donate $300 each.

The program has raised about $20,000 so far and will continue collecting money throughout the year to help fund a permanent monument in Waterfront Park commemorating the city's first 300 years, as well as other tricentennial festivities.