A fire prevention celebration on Saturday will include a parade as part of Oak Ridge’s 75th anniversary celebration.
The celebration will kick off with a “Then and Now”-themed parade that will start at Oak Ridge Fire Department Fire Station Number 3 on Tuskegee Drive and end at Alvin K. Bissell Park. Lineup for participants begins at 9 a.m., with the parade getting underway at 10 a.m.
The city that is now Oak Ridge was built as part of the Manhattan Project, a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic weapons during World War II. Among other things, uranium enriched at Y-12 fueled the first atomic bomb used in wartime. Code-named “Little Boy,” it was dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, shortly before the end of the war.
In the 1940s, Oak Ridge hosted a parade during Fire Prevention Week every October to help spread the word about fire safety, a press release said.
“ORFD hopes to rekindle this tradition in honor of the city’s milestone anniversary,” the press release said.
Following the parade on Saturday, everyone is invited to gather in A.K. Bissell Park at 11 a.m. for opening ceremonies that will include static displays of emergency services equipment, bounce houses, safety information booths, and emergency services demonstrations, the release said.
“Anyone participating in the parade with fire apparatus and equipment is welcome to put them on display for the event inside the park,” the release said. “If you do not wish to display your apparatus, you can park in a designated area and join in on the fun.”
Parade registration can be completed online through the www.oakridge75th.com website. For more information, contact the Oak Ridge Fire Department at (865) 425-3520 or Explore Oak Ridge at (865) 483-1321.
Here are some key dates in Oak Ridge’s early history, according to Y-12 National Security Complex Historian and newspaper history columnist D. Ray Smith:
- September 19, 1942: The day that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers General Leslie Groves authorized the purchase of land for the Manhattan Project in the area that is now Oak Ridge, initiating a letter to purchase about 60,000 acres, much of which remains as the Oak Ridge Reservation.
- September 23-24, 1942: Groves visited Oak Ridge, which was then Site X and later the Clinton Engineer Works. The area had about 3,000 people and 1,000 farms in several communities, and they had to move within days for the Manhattan Project.
- February 1, 1943: Groundbreaking for Y-12, which continues to work on nuclear weapons, among other activities.
- February 2, 1943: Groundbreaking for X-10, now Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which had the Graphite Reactor, a pilot project for plutonium. ORNL continues to conduct scientific research.
- June 1943: Groundbreaking for K-25, now known as East Tennessee Technology Park, a uranium-enrichment site that has since been shut down and is being converted into a large industrial park.
See this earlier story for more information on the 75th anniversary celebration.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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