Jim Thorpe – the town – celebrates Jim Thorpe – the man – this weekend for the 16th annual Jim Thorpe Birthday Celebration.
On Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21, the town bearing the legendary Olympian’s name remembers both the history and the legacy of the man named “the world’s greatest athlete” by King Gustav V, 100 years ago in Stockholm, Sweden.
A Native American tribute opens the celebration at 10 a.m. Saturday morning at the Jim Thorpe Mausoleum, located at Joe Boyle Circle and Route 903.
The Olympian Cross Country and Track team will then carry a lighted torch from the ceremony to Jim Thorpe High School, lighting a torch for the Carbon County Special Olympics and then travel through the town of Jim Thorpe to the Josiah White Park (train station) to light the Olympic torch.
The annual celebration always features Native American folklore, dancing and drumming. Here is a link to one of last year’s performances. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VsbAF3dSqk
Goers will also enjoy free outdoor concerts, craft and food vendors, a clown for the children, and a Chinese Auction. The Mauch Chunk Opera House also has three concerts lined up for the weekend.
Jim Thorpe’s grandson, Michael Koehler, who backs the town’s fight against his relatives to keep the legendary athlete interred here, spoke at the dedication.
In his remarks at the unveiling, Koehler said that while he understands the other side of the family’s views, he believes that there is no better place for Jim Thorpe to rest in peace, noting that his aunt (Grace Thorpe) had performed a Native American burial ritual there.
“My grandfather has returned to Mother Earth. He lies on sanctified ground. My half of the family doesn’t see any reason whatsoever to change any of that – to disinter his remains and to take him to some obscure plot in Shawnee, Oklahoma,” he said.