Happy Birthday, Nebraska!

AJ Dahm

Nebraska Life Magazine’s official 2017 Nebraska Statehood Day Party was one for the record books.

A standing-room only crowd saluted Nebraska’s 150th birthday with trumpet fanfare and the world’s largest Nebraska-shaped Big Red velvet cake.

Hearty Nebraskans from as far away as Morrill, Giltner and Atkinson congregated in the magazine’s downtown Norfolk offices on March 1 to sing “Beautiful Nebraska” accompanied by Norfolk High School trumpeters Ethan Carlson and Thomas Wisnieski. Young tykes slurped Kool-Aid (invented in Nebraska) and venerable Nebraskans sipped coffee as Norfolk Mayor Josh Moening praised the “sheer will and determination” of Nebraska’s pioneers, both past and present.

“One hundred and fifty years later this once treeless prairie is the home of Arbor Day, and this Great American Desert is one of the top farm states in the country,” Moening said. “Marvels of modern agriculture are developed here every day through our university system. It is really quite remarkable when you look at it.”

Laughter, applause and the clicking of camera shutters echoed throughout the celebration. A showcase of Nebraska photography by Aaron Beckman of Norfolk and Roy Swoboda of Meadow Grove greeted guests at the door. A giant Lego model of the Nebraska Capitol built by John Tooker of Lincoln wowed the crowd. The unveiling of Bob Arkfeld’s “Plates of Nebraska” collage struck a chord with the assembled Cornhuskers.

Arkfeld carved the state’s panhandled, rectangular-ish shape out of license plates donated by Nebraska Life readers. All 93 counties and varying eras of license plates combine to form a 16-foot-wide puzzle of sandhill cranes, western meadowlarks and splendid prairie sunsets. The eye-catching artwork inspired admiration and countless rounds of name-that-county trivia.

The three oldest Nebraskans in attendance, Doris Broekemeier of Norfolk, and Vernon and Lois Schultz of Wisner, blew out the candles on a Nebraska-shaped Big Red velvet cake thought to be the largest in the history of the state. Record or not, it served as a sweet final course to a day spent reflecting on the legendary sense of community and died-in-the-wool determination characterizing Nebraska’s first 150 years of statehood.

Nebraska Life Publisher and Editor Christopher Amundson drew many knowing nods with his own heartfelt tribute to his home state.  

“In all the craziness that goes on in the world, Nebraska is a place where we still get it right,” he said. “The culture, values, family; how we rely on one another –this is the best of America – right here in Nebraska.”

Here’s to another 150 years of the Good Life.


Want your own Nebraska Life Statehood Day Long-Sleeve T-Shirt or want to give it as a gift?

Click here to order!

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