WHEELING - Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will kick off West Virginia's 150th anniversary in Wheeling Wednesday during events at West Virginia Independence Hall.
Tomblin is set to attend a historical re-enactment of the debate leading to West Virginia's independence from Virginia at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Afterward, he will address members of the West Virginia Legislature, said spokeswoman Amy Shuler-Goodwin.
The ceremony Wednesday at Independence Hall is closed to the general public, she noted, but Tomblin will meet with the public when he attends a block party in downtown Wheeling following the Independence Hall events. The block party is set to begin at 5 p.m. on 14th Street near River City restaurant.
After spending Wednesday evening in Wheeling, Tomblin will return to Charleston Thursday morning for statehood anniversary celebrations at the State Capitol Complex.
"But the official kickoff to West Virginia's 150th birthday is in Wheeling - as it should be," Goodwin said. "It was our first capital."
She noted many sesquicentennial events will be happening across West Virginia this week.
"It's a very exciting time for our state," Goodwin said. "West Virginians are coming out in full force to celebrate because we have a lot to be proud of in our state. It's always a wonderful thing to look backward and watch how we came from there to here."
Travis Henline, site manager of Independence Hall, said when Tomblin addresses members of the Legislature in Wheeling Wednesday, it will be only the second time in 150 years that West Virginia's governor and Legislature have met together at West Virginia Independence Hall. The last time was in June 1963, when Gov. William W. "Wally" Barron and state lawmakers convened in Wheeling for a session to commemorate the state's 100th birthday, according to Henline.
"This is our generation's celebration of our statehood, and there will not be another celebration like this for another 50 years," he said. "In another 50 years, people will look back at how we celebrated. And I have no doubt that in another 50 years, our descendants will celebrate in a similar fashion."