Many events led up to celebrating the village of Byron's 150th Anniversary. Fundraisers included many bake sales, pancake suppers, sales of cups, plates, ashtrays, pins, dresses, vests, hats, bumper stickers, neckties, and any other thing we could put our logo on for advertisement.
Groups of people, in period dress, traveled to Dexter, and other places to promote Byron. The businesses all joined together and with the trustful paintbrush of Lester Tower , painted all the storefronts alike. A red, white, and blue banner across the top of all the windows, completed our unity.
On June 14th all the men joined together as the Brothers of the Brush buried Mr. Ray Zor. Ernest Streeter, local undertaker, was in charge of the procession and the gravesite. The Rev. Homer VanBuren presented the eulogy. Raymond Tower designed the lovely headstone, which reminded the men of the shaving ban that was in effect until after July 14th.
The Friday night sessions of the “Kangaroo Kourt” took pity on nobody. Rich man, poor man, ladies, and children were brought before the bench. Hard time was spent in the open jail. Newspaper editors and reporters received the same treatment as the everyday person.
Every Friday, for the last three months of the period before the week's actives was Old-fashioned dress day. Sesquicentennial headquarters was the Woman's Relief Corp hall.
The morning of July 11th, 1974, dawned bright and sunny, with the promise of a beautiful day. This was the day that would culminate the hard work of many people over the last two years.
At 10 a.m., Boy Scout Troop #80 presided over the raising of the American Flag. The day continued with the beautiful baby contest. In the evening Ida Campbell was crowned Queen and Pete Spangenberger the King of the festivities. Their court included Hazel Tower , Beatrice Barns, Roy Ketchum, and Verne Hoover. The requirements of entering the contest were being over seventy-five years of age, and a resident of the Byron area for at least 50 years. Pictures were put on cans, and the people voted their choice by placing a penny per vote in the cans.
A Children's Parade turned out to be a very exciting time for the youth of the village. Beside the usual decorated bicycles and tricycles, they turned their Radio Flyer wagons into floats. The children dressed in costumes depicting the olden days. Three brothers even portrayed the famous painting of the American Flag Bearer, drummer, and fife player. Clowns of all sizes and description made the largest of children laugh with their antics. The Junior Band of the Byron High School provided the cadence for the parade. Smokey the Bear ( Lester Tower ) made a very warm appearance.
Helicopter rides, Wade Carnival, and a Town Meeting concluded the first day.
On July 12th, besides the activities of the day before, there was a Little League game, a Street Dance for the young and old, and of course the very popular Kangaroo Kourt. The Kangaoo Kourt had been a very fun time for the several Friday evenings preceding the celebration. The Honorable Judge Bruce Fox presided over several of the evenings. At other times Everett (Doc) Orr filled in very capably.
Saturday, July 13, 1974 – the BIG day. Today we are 150 years old. Again the weatherman smiled on us. After the flag-raising, the line-up for the Parade began. Parade Marshall Marvin Mack and his many helpers were ready to give us the show of our lives. Byron's parade lasted for three hours. Unites were present from all around the State to help us celebrate. One of the big hits of the day was the Unicycle Troop from Pontiac . After the parade they put on a show for the people.
As 4 P.M. arrived, so did our Bride Sherrie Lucas, in a horse drawn carriage. The wedding was held on the lawn of the United Methodist Church . A reception was held on the Elementary School lawn for the new Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Tefft.
Judging of the Belles, the Best Dressed Families, and the Brothers of the Brush were the activities that preceded a wonderful Fireworks display.
On Sunday, our closing day, some of the activities included: the flag-raising, church, and an old fashioned capsule was buried. The capsule will be opened at the time of our Bicentennial.
Of the many people who worked so hard to make this celebration a success, we would remiss if we did not mention the people who were not mentioned in the Sesquicentennial Book.
Co-Chair Persons – James Duncanson, Sharon Granger, and Lester Tower
Co-Treasurers – Bruce Stephens and June Tower
Secretary – Shirley Mack
Parade Marshall – Marvin Mack
At the final report meeting, over thirty Sesquicentennial workers gathered at the Women's Relief Corps hall. Bruce Stephens gave a treasurer's report. Although not all the bills are in, it was evident a profit would be shown The members voted to run the profits realized from the sesquicentennial the Chamber of Commerce to make plans for the creating of a public park. It was voted to dissolve the Sesquicentennial Corporation prior to the October filing date. The leftover dresses, blouses, skirts, and hats that were left, were offered to the Gaines Centennial Committee. Mrs. Lester Tower was in charge of this.
The report showed that the Historical Cabin (which was located in the WRC building) was visited by over 2,500 people from 137 different cities and towns and many visitors were from out of state. Of course, the Byron Sesquicentennial Park is the final outcome of the hard work of many volunteers from many organizations.
The opinion of all, as they rested their tired bodies, was that many of us would be ready to do it all again in 1999.