In just a few weeks, Warner Robins – called a “City of Destiny” years ago in the Atlanta Journal Constitution — will celebrate its 75th anniversary. It was on March 5, 1943, when the community known as Wellston officially changed its name through the Georgia Legislature to Warner Robins, after renowned Army Air Force Gen. Augustine Warner Robins. He was the one responsible for the “Keep ‘Em Flying” program which was the heart of the Warner Robins Army Air Depot during World War II.
The tiny community grew from 53 plus residents to over 75,000 today thanks to post-war growth. The railroad brought the troops in for training, people relocated for stable employment supporting the war initiative and the rest is history. Seventy-five years later, the community is booming and proud to be the “home of planes, trains and heroes” with Robins Air Force Base, the Museum of Aviation and the city’s welcome center on the railroad tracks now designated on the National Register of Historic Places.
Among the city’s heroes are professional public servants maintaining law and order and firefighters protecting us from disasters; a great education system ranging from pre-K through college; athletes of all ages and capabilities who participate and shine through the city’s growing sports programs; and the community of civil servants and military who make up what is now one of the largest industrial complexes in Georgia. The city’s motto, “Every Day in Middle Georgia is Armed Forces Appreciation Day,” is the mantra of the city and a standard that is legendary throughout the Air Force.
So, on March 4 at the historic train depot located directly across from the base’s main gate on Watson Boulevard and Armed Forces Boulevard, Mayor Randy Toms invites the public to an afternoon of family fun and a ribbon cutting to kick off a year of celebration. The event is from 1-4 p.m. with the ribbon cutting at 1:30 p.m., hosted by the Robins Chamber of Commerce and the Warner Robins Convention & Visitors Bureau.
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Festivities include the Wellston Winds Brass Ensemble performing from 1:30-2:30 pm; a special train display from the SE Railway Museum in the Elberta Depot Heritage Center; Thomas the Train rides; face painting and balloons; refreshments and giveaways for the children; and the opportunity to sit on the vintage train benches and watch the trains go by! There will be a food truck and the newly acquired toy model train landscape will be set up for viewing. The landscape layout is a work in progress, being restored over the next several months by local model train enthusiasts. The event is free, casual, a great photo opportunity and a fun afternoon to stand on the historic property where it all began. There might even be a re-enactor or two walking through the crowd.
Other events planned during the year of celebration include a parade March 24 honoring military personnel from the World War II-era to the present. “This is a parade saluting our military, those who served in any way to make us the town that WWII built,” said Alex Talley, parade committee member. “We will end the day at the Senior Center with a USO party and dance featuring the great music of the ‘40s — it will be a day to remember.”
Commercial Circle will be the location for the annual Arts Live on the Circle Festival, sponsored by the Fine Arts Society of Middle Georgia with assistance from the City of Warner Robins. The festival is 10 a.m.-5 p.m. with live bands, entertainment, food, car show, garden blooms and art vendors. Visit www.facebook.com/pg/fasmidga/events for more details.
Then on April 20 and 21 the Robins Flying High BBQ Festival will be going on at the Wellston Center. Judge registration information and cook team applications are available at https://gba.wildcat.org. or by calling Burl Jimmerson at 478-954-2115. The festival is in collaboration with the Georgia Barbeque Association and the Warner Robins Recreation Department.
The Warner Robins Independence Day Celebration, held the week of July 4, promises to be more than a just a fireworks display. The main event features major entertainment, food trucks, and a children’s corner — all culminating with a fireworks display that will celebrate the 75th anniversary. The concert and fireworks are free. More information is coming soon and will be available at www.wrga.org.
Marsha Priest Buzzell is the executive director of the Warner Robins Convention & Visitors Bureau and may be contacted at 478-922-5100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.