The cities of Cambridge and New Concord are joining forces to commemorate the life and accomplishments of John H. Glenn Jr. with a three-day centennial celebration Friday through Sunday. The festivities will culminate on what would have been Glenn's 100th birthday.
Glenn was the third American in space and the first to orbit the Earth in 1962. He served in the Senate from 1974 to 1999. In 1998, at the age of 77, he flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery's STS-95 mission. He was the oldest person to fly in space and the only person to fly in both the Mercury and the Space Shuttle programs. Glenn died at theage of 95 in 2016. He was the last surviving member of the Mercury Seven.
Glenn was born in Cambridge and raised in New Concord.
The celebration will include presentations from Ohio space shuttle Astronaut Don Thomas, United States Sen. Sherrod Brown and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Connie Schultz, as well as the Friendship 7-Mile Parade from Cambridge to New Concord on July 17.
“John Glenn was such an inspirational role model for me and many other young students across Ohio and the rest of the country,” said Thomas in a press release. He was 6 years old when he saw Glenn make his first trip into space.
“So, it is with great honor and excitement that I look forward to attending the John Glenn Centennial Celebration and hopefully inspiring future astronauts.”
Thirty-two years later, Thomas himself headed to space aboard Columbia on the first of four space shuttle missions.
"Its official," said Cambridge Mayor Tom Orr of the celebration. "It's going to happen and it's going to be very, very big. Quite honestly, it's unique and I want to say thank you to all that are involved."
Orr praised the collaboration between Cambridge and New Concord officials including several zoom meetings over the last six months.
"It's the first time Cambridge and New Concord have kind of flowed together and really that's what John Glenn did," said Orr. "He was born here and then he kind of went on from here, lived his life and he came back over the years and did what he did, but he has always come to Cambridge too.
"He dedicated the monument at the park for a fallen officer, so there's a lot of history there," added Orr.
Celebratory events begins with Living History Tours at the John & Annie Glenn Museum in New Concord from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 16.
A special presentation from Thomas is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Cambridge City Park.
On July 17, events begin at 8 a.m. with the Friendship 7-Miler Race from the Pritchard-Laughlin Civic Center in Cambridge to New Concord. Runners can register online.
The Friendship 7-Mile Parade from Cambridge to New Concord via Glenn Highway (U.S. 22/40) kicks off at 10:30 a.m. from the Guernsey County Courthouse in downtown Cambridge.
Prior to the parade, U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, Ohio Rep. Adam Holmes, Thomas and Guernsey County commissioners will give presentations outside the courthouse. At the end of the parade in New Concord, Brown and Schultz will join friends of John and Annie Glenn for presentations.
Friends expected to speak include Dr. Trevor Brown, dean of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University; Dr. Susan Hasseler, president of Muskingum University; Dr. Barb Hansen, executive director of the John & Annie Glenn Museum; and Superintendent Dave Adams of the East Muskingum Local School District.
Beginning at 11 a.m., WMCO 90.7 FM will announce the parade as well as air the post parade program, the Muskingum Valley Symphonic Winds performance, and the Don Thomas presentation.
The celebration concludes on Sunday with a photo exhibit of Glenn's 1962 homecoming parade, screenings of “Friendship 7” at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. at the John & Annie Glenn Museum and free walk-through tours at the museum.
In addition to the three-day celebration, there are commemorative events occurring in the region throughout the month of July. For a list of these events, visit the Zanesville Convention & Visitors Bureau website.
People can also experience the To the Moon and Back Road Trip curated by Ohio to celebrate the state's rich space and aviation history.
The John Glenn Centennial Celebration is made possible through sponsorships and partnerships with organizations throughout the region.
The planning task force is still soliciting donations to support the celebration. Interested organizations and individuals may donate through the Muskingum County Community Foundation’s website.