West Virginia's 150th birthday is Thursday. Most major events and activities across the state are scheduled for the weekend following the actual holiday to allow greater participation and attendance.
However, state parks will pay tribute on the June 20 birth date of The Mountain State regardless of crowd size or weather, all under the umbrella theme of "Hail to the Hills."
"The state song, 'The West Virginia Hills,' was something we sang in grade school when I was a youngster," said Sissie Summers of programming services with the West Virginia state park system. "Traditionally on a birthday there is a 'Happy Birthday to You,' but the state song that was penned in 1938 seems more appropriate and generational. Our park settings and the song's message can be a powerful 3- to 4-minute pause in the day, and our staff will be leading our guests in singing or reciting it on West Virginia Day."
West Virginia state parks pledging "Hail to the Hills" on Thursday include:
Blackwater Falls State Park
"Hail to the Hills" will be led by naturalist Annie Harmon at a 2 p.m. campfire at the Harold Walters Nature Center. Other games and activities are planned. Marshmallows and roasting forks will be provided. Those joining in the sing-along will enjoy backup by Harmon playing the ukulele. For information, call 304-259-5216
Cass Scenic Railroad State Park
The simplest gift is sometimes the verse and chorus of a special song. "The West Virginia Hills" will be recited or conducted as a sing-along at some point on Whittaker Station Runs (departures at 11 a.m. and at 2 p.m.) and the Bald Knob run that departs at noon. What better venue to celebrate a birthday than from Whittaker Station or at Bald Knob, the second highest natural point in West Virginia?
Droop Mountain State Park
The hills are alive at Droop Mountain Tower, where you'll hear the singing of "The West Virginia Hills" at 2 p.m. following the statewide bell ringing at 1:50 p.m.
Watoga State Park
Watoga staff will ring the bells at 1:50 p.m., followed by a recitation of "The West Virginia Hills." Join naturalist Cheryle Boggs at the Recreation Building to pay birthday tribute to The Mountain State of West Virginia. For information, call 304-799-4087
Information about events and activities on Thursday and throughout the year at West Virginia's state parks can be found by visiting www.wvstateparks.com.