The Oak Ridge Fire Department will be hosting a fire prevention celebration on Saturday, October 7, as part of the city’s 75th anniversary.
In the 1940s, Oak Ridge hosted a parade during Fire Prevention Week every October to help spread the word about fire safety. ORFD hopes to rekindle this tradition in honor of the City’s milestone anniversary, a press release said.
The celebration will kick off with a Then and Now-themed parade at ORFD Fire Station Number 3 on Tuskegee Drive and end at Alvin K. Bissell Park. Lineup for participants will begin at 9 a.m., with the parade getting underway at 10 a.m., the press release said.
Following the parade, 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.
Anyone participating in the parade with fire apparatus and equipment is welcome to put them on display for the event inside the park. 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 is more information about Oak Ridge’s 75th anniversary from a previous story:
The 75th Anniversary Committee was announced on Thursday, August 31, at the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce. During that ceremony, officials unveiled a 75th anniversary logo, designed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and announced a 75th anniversary website (www.oakridge75th.com).
Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch said the 75th Anniversary Committee has 34 members, and it is broad-based and represents the rich history of the city. The Committee will promote, communicate, and support the official 75th anniversary events, Gooch said.
A celebration on Friday, September 15, featuring Ed Westcott and Denise Kiernan at the Grove Theater was the first official event. It was presented by the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association.
Gooch said the 14-month celebration will recount the many accomplishments of the past and acknowledge the remarkable people, companies, and organizations that are responsible for them.
Men and women from every state in the country and from around the world have come to Oak Ridge to work over the last 75 years, and their collective efforts have protected national security, promoted the missions of the U.S. Department of Energy, and secured a bright future for the city, Gooch said.
“Obviously, we are known for our contributions to security and science,” he said.
The Y-12 National Security Complex played a vital role in winning World War II and the Cold War, and it continues to maintain national security today, Gooch said. 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. 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.
Gooch said the scientific advances that came about because of the Manhattan Project “literally changed the world.” Those accomplishments include the first medical isotopes produced in 1946, the essential contributions made over the years in the exploration of space, the continuing research in nuclear science and energy, today’s high performance computing with the country’s most powerful computer for open science, and being the global leader in advanced materials research, Gooch said.
“As I often say, Oak Ridge was created to be great, and you can be sure that the next world-changing discovery or invention at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is on the way,” Gooch said.
The 75th anniversary events will also celebrate other features of Oak Ridge, ranging from its quality of life, business community, greenways, waterways, and bike trails to its cultural diversity and commitment to public education, the arts, music, medicine, and public services, Gooch said.
“We will celebrate the nation’s best rowing venue, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, the skill and talent of organized labor, and of course Main Street, which represents the revitalization of our center city and will also be the new home of the iconic American Museum of Science and Energy,” Gooch said.
The Committee will also highlight the city’s history in promoting the desegregation of public schools in the South and “our unwavering commitment to equal opportunity and equal justice under the law,” Gooch said.
After the September 15 celebration featuring Ed Westcott and Denise Kiernan at the Grove Theater, the next event was a September 21 groundbreaking for the new Peace Pavilion for the International Friendship Bell.
The Then and Now 1940s-era Fire Prevention Parade and Community Festival at Alvin K. Bissell Park on October 7 is the next event.
“I want to emphasize that these three events are only the first of many to come,” Gooch said. “The city, many companies, organizations, groups, and individuals will celebrate anniversaries of various milestones through the year.”
Gooch said the Oak Ridge Police Department has created a new badge for the 75th anniversary. It includes the historic “A pin” in its design. The “A pin” was originally given to Manhattan Project workers.
“Oak Ridge has always been known as the ‘Secret City,’ but we’re not secret anymore,” Gooch said.
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.
Smith said Groves initially considered putting other Manhattan Project functions here, but he determined that that would result in too many activities too close to Knoxville. He decided to build plutonium reactors at Hanford, Washington, on 586 square miles near the Columbia River, which could be used for cooling. (Oak Ridge was 90 square miles.) Plutonium for “Fat Man,” the second atomic bomb, dropped over Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945, came from Hanford.
Another Manhattan Project site was built at Los Alamos, New Mexico, an isolated place on a mesa where physicist Robert Oppenheimer had vacationed, Smith said.
Besides enriching uranium for “Little Boy,” Oak Ridge was the main production site for the Manhattan Project.
Today, Oak Ridge, Hanford, and Los Alamos are part of the unique, three-site Manhattan Project National Historical Park, the first of its kind to commemorate the Manhattan Project. The park was formally established in November 2015.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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