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Memorial events to mark 75 years since deadly day

POSTED: April 5, 2011 9:39 a.m.

Seventy-five years after a tornado decimated Gainesville, the town is ready to pay tribute to those it killed.

Northeast Georgia History Center and Main Street Gainesville officials have planned a series of events this month to recognize April 6, 1936.

A crowd will gather on the downtown square at 8:15 a.m. Wednesday to hold a moment of silence when the tornado struck at 8:27 a.m. Mayor Ruth Bruner will help dedicate a plaque that will hang on a brick pillar beside Washington Street.

"I was really surprised that there's nothing downtown that talks about the destruction that occurred," said Angela Thompson, Main Street manager. "It's a very important piece of our history that speaks volumes about our community and it needed to be acknowledged downtown."

After the memorial event, Thompson will hand out brochures for residents to take a 20-minute walking tour of the path of the tornado.

On Wednesday evening, the history center will host a special reception to recognize survivors.

"We're excited to see a good attendance and, more importantly, get many survivors in one place," said Glen Kyle, director of the center. "We want it to be something special to honor them and the 200 plus people who didn't survive, who were these survivors' friends and families."

A year ago, history center workers began planning a documentary, a lecture on the science of weather and two large exhibits in addition to "A City Laid Waste" that is already on display.

The exhibits, "The Tornado of 1936" and "New Deal to New Direction: America and Northeast Georgia in the 1930s," include artifacts and an interactive tornado display for children.

"If we don't preserve these stories, who is going to?" Kyle said. "People living in Gainesville were not alive during those times, and we need to make them aware that the community they live in and the landscape they see every day was a result of this singular event."


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