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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fort Thomas' Centennial Queen Looks Back

Bunny Wight, Queen of Fort Thomas Centennial
As we approach our city's 150th anniversary it’s only natural that we reminisce and there are plenty of people in Fort Thomas who can remember all the way back to the city’s last big birthday, the centennial in 1967. Bunny McCrae has more memories of that time to look back on than most because back then she was named the city’s Centennial Queen.

Bunny recalls “It was so exciting, a huge honor.” The city ran a contest, Fort Thomas girls had to sell tickets to the event, which was held at Highlands High School football field and the one who sold the most was to be named Centennial Queen. Bunny, then Bunny Wight, worked hard, selling tickets to family and friends and won the contest. “My whole family all lived here and I’d just graduated from high school, so I had plenty of friends to sell them to.”

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The entire city turned out and the field was packed for the coronation, which made the experience of being in the center and among the dignitaries somewhat nerve wracking. “It was overwhelming, as you can imagine for an eighteen year old, very overwhelming.  There were usually a lot of people there for football games but there were even more that night. Everybody was there to celebrate the city’s birthday. The Governor of Kentucky came up to Fort Thomas and he was the one who actually crowned me.”

Bunny and her court, which was made up of the runners up in the ticket contest, wore dresses that were from the era of Fort Thomas’ founding. On Independence Day they rode on a float in the parade through the town. “It was a big deal, to the best of my knowledge that was pretty much the beginning of the Fourth of July parade in the city.”

Throughout the festivities, which ran for a week from the end of June through the Fourth of July, Bunny was center stage. She carried out the role of Centennial Queen at many events. There were articles in the newspapers and her grandmother took clippings and made her an album that she still treasures to this day. “It’s made every move with me for the last fifty years, it’s a little dog eared and it got wet when we had a leak in the basement one time but it’s always been there.”

As the banners go up and the town prepares to celebrate another huge anniversary, Bunny will no doubt be reminded more of the centennial. “It brings back memories of being young again. It was a big honor but I really did work hard for it selling those tickets!”

Bunny has lived in Fort Thomas all of her life and she is unsurprisingly proud of her part in the city’s history. Along with the rest of the town, she’s looking forward to celebrating the sesquicentennial this year. “It’s a good place, a real family orientated city. We celebrate our city, that’s just what we do.”

Centennial Queen Bunny Wight on the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce float. Court: Donna Jo Dudderer, Pam Kuhnhein, Laura Pogue

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