Sumner joins nationwide effort to mark historic flag-raising’s 200th anniversary

Staff writerJune 2, 2014 

A certain nostalgia is associated with Sumner. Green, old-fashioned street lights line downtown sidewalks, classic cars rumble through town and a traditional gazebo stands in the center of a park off Main Street.

“It kind of gives Sumner that old-town feel, which we don’t have a lot anymore,” said Lauann Spencer, owner of Folkart Gatherings, across the street from the gazebo. “It is just an amazing thing to have a downtown.”

The Puyallup Valley city of 9,500 sees itself as all-American as apple pie — or in Sumner’s case, rhubarb pie. And it will keep that spirit going on Flag Day, June 14, when it celebrates the 200th anniversary of the raising of the flag that inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Everyone is invited to join the community sing-along around the gazebo at Reuben A. Knoblauch Heritage Park downtown.

The event is a part of the “Raise It Up!” campaign, put on by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, to encourage people across several time zones to sing the national anthem simultaneously.

The Smithsonian will collect videos from communities across the nation and will compile them into a film that will be shown in an exhibit about the historic flag in Washington, D.C., said Carmen Palmer, spokeswoman for the city of Sumner.

Sumner is one of the only communities on the West Coast that has so far signed up to participate, Palmer said. Other participants include The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Park Service and the city of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, according to the “Raise it Up!” website.

Spencer said she hopes many people from Sumner — including business owners — will join in.

“We could have a moment to sing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ in the park, and we could close our stores and go there,” she said.

Caitlin Bures, den leader of a Cub Scout group taking part in the event, said she signed up the boys because it’s a good opportunity to teach them about the history of the flag and the anthem.

She called the event a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Laurie Miller, executive director of the Sumner Downtown Association, said it’s gatherings like this that bring the community together.

“Neighbors meeting neighbors, becoming familiar with what is downtown,” Miller said. “They get to learn a little bit, and this is kind of an historic event.”

She said events put on by the city provide an economic boost to local shops by attracting out-of-towners.

Never mind that the singing itself will last only a few minutes.

“These kinds of things will bring people out, and I think they tend to stay in the downtown area for a few hours afterward,” Miller said.

Palmer said she doesn’t know how many people might attend, but she’s contacted the Sumner School District in hopes of attracting choir groups.

Francis Scott Key was inspired to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” after witnessing U.S. troops defeat British forces in Baltimore during the War of 1812. The critical battle — and the raising of the famous flag at Fort McHenry — took place in September 1814.

IF YOU GO

What: A community singing of the national anthem to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the flag made famous by “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

When: 1 p.m. June 14.

Where: Reuben A. Knoblauch Heritage Park, 914 Kincaid Ave., Sumner.

Who: Anyone with enthusiasm.

Ryan Tarinelli: 253-597-8670

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