Durham to host 150th birthday celebration

April 9, 2019

The City of Durham will be celebrating its 150th birthday with a party on Saturday at American Tobacco Campus.

The event kicks off at 10 a.m. with Durham Mayor Steve Schewel leading the official birthday recognition, followed by confetti cannons, complimentary birthday cake and a singalong. Emcees Jatovi McDuffie of the Durham Bulls) and WRAL anchor Ken Smith will also be on hand.

“All are encouraged to attend and invited to learn more about our diverse, important past and position for the future. We’ll honor changemakers and lead constructive dialogues, celebrating and engaging with one another. It’s going to be awesome,” Schewel said.

The event will include live music and performances from The African American Dance Ensemble, the Bouncing Bulldogs, Kidznotes and storyteller Willa Brigam. There will also be a photo mosaic mural to commemorate the celebration.

Durhamites can take a photo on-site Saturday or take photos around town and use the hashtag “Durham150” on Instagram or Twitter to be included in the mosaic mural. Once complete, the mural will be displayed at different locations around Durham and featured at the Durham 150 Closing Ceremony at DPAC on Nov. 2.

Durham will also be collecting oral histories from people on site to add to its archives.

To help celebrate Durham’s history, there will be areas of American Tobacco Campus celebrating the themes of history and education, innovation and entrepreneurship, social equity and robust democracy, and arts and leisure. Dubbed “neighborhoods,” the spaces will be filled with exhibits, local experts, artists and activities to explore. Those who visit all four themed neighborhoods are eligible to enter a drawing for prizes including entertainment and staycation packages from local businesses.

“These themes were thoughtfully selected to encourage today’s Durhamites to explore the strength, talents, issues and obstacles our predecessors worked through to make Durham the fascinating place that it is today,” said Beverly Thompson, co-chair of the Opening Celebration committee and director of public affairs for the City of Durham. “If people come and engage, we’re confident they’ll walk away having learned something new, and they’ll definitely know more about our community than they did when they arrived.”

Saturday’s celebration will close at 1:30 p.m. with the “Running of the Bulls,” where up to 2,000 attendees will receive a floatable rubber bull to race down the American Tobacco Campus river.

All participants get a souvenir, but the top three winning bull owners will win prize packages that include gift cards, tickets to shows and an overnight staycation.