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09/12/2013 – A CENTENNIAL BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION FOR JESSE OWENS

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Decatur, Alabama – On Saturday, September 21, 2013, the Jesse Owens Memorial Park and Museum pays tribute to the legacy of Olympic track and field superstar Jesse Owens in commemoration of his 100th birthday with a day filled with free food, Olympic-style competitions, and museum tours. With a theme of One Chance Is All You Need, the Centennial Birthday Celebration gets underway at 11 a.m. at the Jesse Owens Memorial Park and Museum located at 7019 County Road 203 in Danville, Ala.

Born in 1913 in Oakville, Ala., Jesse Owens moved to Cleveland, Ohio when he was nine years old, and soon thereafter, at the age of 15, he began the transformation into an Olympic champion. During his tenure at Ohio State, he set new conference records in all three events he competed in: the 100-yard dash 9.6 seconds, the 220-yard dash 21.0 seconds and the long jump 24 feet 10 inches, and was undefeated in 42 events and won 4 firsts at the Big Ten Championships, four in the NCAA Championship and two in the NAAU Championships. At the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, he captured four gold medals, overcoming racial and socioeconomic barriers. In 1955, he was named Ambassador of Sports by President Eisenhower and toured the world promoting the virtues of amateur programs and served as his personal representative to the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. In 1970, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and in 1976, President Gerald Ford presented him the Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the US bestows upon a civilian, saying, “Your character, your achievement, always will be a source of inspiration.” In 1979, President Jimmy Carter presented him with the Living Legend Award. Jesse Owens died of lunch cancer at the age of 66.

The festivities begin with an opening ceremony that includes recognition of dignitaries, family members of Jesse Owens, and the sculptor of the park’s Jesse Owens statue, Branko Medenica who will be on hand to talk about the history of the statue from its conception to its completion.  The youth can compete in Olympic-style competitions and win an award. Competitions include 100-yard dash, 200-yard dash and broad jump – the three events Owens excelled in.

There will be free museum and home replica tours, conducted by park volunteers. The museum showcases rare memorabilia including programs from the 1936 Olympics, replicas of track uniforms and shoes, medals, and trophies from Owens’ high school days and offers interactive kiosks that highlight his life and accomplishments. While touring the home replica, visitors can listen to audio that tells of Jesse Owens’ life as a sharecropper’s son, narrated by his brother Sylvester. The Jesse Owens Memorial Park also showcases memorials for Owens including a statue and a1936 torch replica and provides facilities for community use including a basketball court, baseball/softball fields, playground, picnic tables, and pavilions. Athletes can test their skills in the long jump pit to see how close they can come to Owens’ 1936 Olympic gold medal distance of 26 feet 5 5/16 inches.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Festivalgoers will also be treated to free hot dogs, drinks and birthday cake as long as supplies last. All activities are free and open to the public.

For more information on the Centennial Birthday Celebration, call 256.974.3636 or visit them at http://www.facebook.com/jesseowensmuseum. For more information on the Memorial Park and Museum, visit www.jesseowensmuseum.org.

About Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association (AMLA)

AMLA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion and development of the travel industry within the 16 northernmost counties of the state.  It is supported by 500-plus members consisting of chambers of commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureaus, attractions, campgrounds, festivals, communities, counties, golf courses, restaurants, tour operators, accommodations, vendors, financial institutions and individuals.  Counties included within the AMLA region are Blount, Cherokee, Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan and Winston. Additional information on North Alabama destinations, accommodations and special events is available from the AMLA by calling 800.648.5381 or by visiting their web site at www.NorthAlabama.org.

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Written by 49 County News.Net

September 12, 2013 at 5:38 PM

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