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September 11, 2001

New traffic lanes have been marked with fresh paint on streets around the downtown Perry square, and thatís just one of the sure signs pointing to our annual celebration of the Cherokee Outlet land run on September 16, 1893. In Perry, everyone knows what it means when somebody speaks of ďthe 16th celebration.Ē Itís our townís birthday, partner. Unlike some of our neighbors here in the outlet, we have never failed to throw a party on this historic anniversary, and all indications point to another big one this year.

Itís a time when everyday cares are laid aside and all of us join in the celebration. Most retail businesses are closed for the event each year because this day is not merely a gimmick to lure more customers. Itís a holiday for everyone. The traditional date is the Saturday closest to September 16, and this year that falls on Sunday. The annual parade will help kick things off on Saturday morning, September 15th, followed by free entertainment the rest of the day in the courthouse park. Concession stands will be open for food, fun and games, the carnival will be in full swing just off the northeast corner of the square, the annual Noble county free fair will just be winding down out at the fairgrounds, and youíll find a holiday spirit everywhere.

The aforementioned newly painted traffic lanes even help to brighten things up, and that should remind us that the whole town can use a few refreshing touches. We can join in the spirit of this celebration by getting rid of the trash in our yards, mowing the lawns (donít blow the clippings onto the street), and perhaps touching up some painted areas on our property, or just plain cleaning the premises. You know youíve been meaning to do that. Now is the time! We will entertain thousands of visitors, including a large number of former Perryans who enjoy returning for this occasion. Letís show them that we are still proud of this town. Remember to include the kids in the bands and the organizations that entered floats in the parade. Let them know we appreciate their efforts.

And when the party is over, donít forget to thank the people who made it all possible. Thereís no way to name each one of them, but we know that the staff, board members and officers of the Chamber of Commerce deserve a round of applause, as do the fair board members, extension workers and others who run the county fair, not to mention the exhibitors. The Cherokee Strip celebration in Perry just seems to get bigger and better every year but it doesnít just happen. It takes the combined labors of just about everyone in this town, so if you are among that group, give yourself a pat on the back.

Just a brief word about the death of Gordon Abel last week. He was only 67 years old, and that is pretty young as things are measured now. His daddy, the late Jim Abel, was mayor of Perry for a while in the 1930s and his mother, Viola, was a city officer for several years after that. The Abels lived just a block away from the house where I grew up, but I came to know Gordon better when he was a clerk at the M&W Food Store on the north side of the square, in the building where my Dadís drug store had been located. I can remember Gordonís dad, Jim, who was the local Railway Express agent, telling me when Gordon was born that the babyís middle name was Lillie, honoring the colorful friend of the Abels, Col. William F. (Pawnee Bill) Lillie, who used to ride his beautiful palomino each year in Perryís Cherokee Strip parade. Our condolences to Gordonís family.