St. Louisans will have three opportunities to celebrate the Gateway Arch's 50th anniversary, which is one week from Wednesday.
Birthday events (listed below) include a downtown community festival, an opportunity to meet the construction workers and engineers who built the Arch, a panel discussion on the monument's history and a more formal birthday ceremony, featuring luminaries like Mayor Francis Slay — and free cupcakes.
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial superintendent Tom Bradley, speaking on "St. Louis on the Air," said these events celebrating the Arch's past will also give St. Louisans a peek at the monument's future as the renovations of the Arch grounds continue.
"We're really looking for a much more vital visit, people that want to come and not only want to come once when their Uncle Fred is in town, but come repeatedly during the year," Bradley said. "That's going to be one of our goals is to attract people from the region to come back with fresh offerings vibrant programming."
- Arch 50 Fest
What: A free, day-long community celebration featuring food vendors, live music, kids' activities and fireworks
Where: Kiener Plaza
When: Saturday, October 24 from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Details: Musical acts include the North County Big Band made up of students from North County high schools; the Grand Center Arts Academy Choral Group; St. Louis native and soul singer Brian Owens; and legendary Motown singer Theo Peoples. Kids can play at carnival games or the Bubble Truck, do sand art, have their faces painted, and from 12 to 2 p.m. participate in a MetroBus painting project. Fireworks start at 8 p.m.
- Anniversary Commemoration
What: A recognition ceremony and birthday party commemorating the date 50 years ago when the final steel section was set in place atop the Arch, followed by free cupcakes
Where: Luther Ely Smith Square, on the Fourth Street side of the Old Courthouse downtown
When: Wednesday, October 28 at 11 a.m.
Details: The ceremony will feature National Park Service leaders and local dignitaries. Starting at 11:30 a.m., Sarah's Cake Stop and Destination Desserts will hand out free birthday cupcakes to the first 1,000 visitors from their trucks on Fourth Street on the east side of the Old Courthouse. Visitors can also ride to the top of the Arch for only $1, the original price of a tram ride.
- Meet the Builders and panel discussion
What: Members of the public can meet the workers and engineers who built the Arch, and also attend the free panel "The Gateway Arch: An Icon for Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow."
Where: Missouri History Museum
When: Wednesday, October 28 at 9:30 to 11 a.m. to meet the builders; noon to 1 p.m. for the panel
Details: Visitors can meet, take photos with and get autographs from the electricians, iron and sheet-metal workers, draftsmen, engineers and others who built the Arch. Led by National Park Service historian Bob Moore, the panel will include Susan Saarinen, daughter of Arch architect Eero Saarinen; Christine Smith, granddaughter of Luther Ely Smith, who first developed the idea for a Jefferson memorial; and Ken Kolkmeier, Arch construction project manager. The "Arch Perspectives" photo exhibit will also be on display.