Big Inch ceremony added to Longview 150 lineup

After two years of planning for the city’s sesquicentennial in 2020, the Longview 150 Committee now is turning its focus to production of the celebration.

That includes addition of a ceremony in January to remember the importance of Longview and the East Texas Oil Field to the allied effort in World War II.

“Since everyone is so busy, we will not meet formally,” Community Services Director Laura Hill, who has been leading the official effort, said after the last committee meeting Wednesday.

New events have been added, and adjustments still are being made to the six-month celebration of Longview’s founding in May 1870. So far, hundreds of volunteers, churches, organizations and businesses have teamed for hundreds of events and exhibits to mark the occasion.

Among the newly announced events is a January ceremony to commemorate the Big Inch, a 1,254-mile pipeline built in 1942 to carry crude oil from Longview to the East Coast. Hill mentioned a quote attributed to then-British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, in which he said of World War II that Allied Forces “floated to victory on a sea of East Texas oil.”

The pipeline ceremony will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 25 at Red Oak Baptist Church, located directly across South Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard from a state historical marker commemorating the Big Inch Pipeline.

“Building a public works project that massive in that little amount of time could never be accomplished today,” Hill said. “The fact that Longview had an impact on almost a global scale is something to brag about.”

Among other Longview 150 news, the Longview Museum of Fine Arts is putting together an internal scavenger hunt as part of the Passport Program being developed by the Junior League of Longview. The museum also is planning a spring exhibit, with area artists providing paintings, sculptures or other renditions of local historical structures and landmarks.

“The Passport Program continues to grow and solidify,” Hill said.

Sesquicentennial balloon replicas are being installed over the next week at several locations, including Casa Flora, the Longview Public Library, Sugar Magnolia and Johnson and Pace engineering firm. A balloon recently was installed at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center.

Balloon sales benefit the Gregg County Historical Museum, which also is planning to sell commemorative Christmas ornaments starting in late November, Museum Executive Director Lindsay Loy said.

Award categories have been determined for floats in the Sesquicentennial Parade, Hill said.

The six awards will be the Mayor’s Award for best overall float, the Grand Marshal’s Award for most representative of community spirit, the Americana Award for most patriotic, the Showmanship Award for the best unique theme development and most beautiful float, the Heritage Award for the float with the best scenes of yesteryear and the Innovator Award for the most outstanding use of imagination, innovation and technology.

“The winners will win $250 and a unique trophy that each group is making up as well as bragging rights for the next 50 years,” Hill said.