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Gretna celebrates 100 years

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By Alice Du Pont

The best part of the day-long celebration to kick off Gretna's centennial celebration for 5-year-old Kirsten Harrell was the music and the food. Bopping her head to old school music provided by Tallahassee Nights Live and Nuance, Kirsten sported a light blue butterfly on her cheek and nursed a cold bottle of water.

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She, like hundreds who filled the back lot at Gretna Elementary School, sought shelter from the sweltering heat under two large tents. City Manager Antonio Jefferson said he didn't want the entertainment to be canned music pumped out by a D.J.; he wanted lived entertainment that could be enjoyed by families.

Entire families came and spent the day together from the parade through the 6 p.m. ending of the festival. Retha Williams, who lives in Quincy, was there with her daughter and two grandchildren. While she doesn't live in Gretna, she said she has friends and family there and Saturday's parade and festival was a way for her to get the kids outside and visit with old friends.

Shortly after the parade Carrie Barkley, a member of the centennial committee, said she was going home to take a nap before returning later for the festival.

"It's been a lot of hard work for the committee and all of the people involved. We've planned this for a long time and it has come together beautifully. A lot of people helped make this possible. Those who were unable to help us with the physical work gave donations or helped us access sponsors. The entire community was involved," she said.

Barkley and her husband, Jessie, hosted a cookout for approximately 40 bikers from all over north Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi Friday night, as well as about 60 local bikers. The men and women, riding all kinds of motorcycles, participated in the parade.

"I think today was a success. The community is satisfied and the food is great," Jefferson said.

The city held an essay contest for high school and Gretna Elementary School students. In the elementary category, the topic was "Why I Love Gretna." The winners were: first place, David Sailor; second place, Joana A. Jackson; and third place, Tyree Presha.

The topic in the high school category was "How I Was Positively Influenced By Living In Gretna." The winners were: first place, Poindexter Matthews; second place, Golgotha Donaldson; and third place, Montessia Williams.