Carlisle Day celebration featured the renaming of McDonald Street to Willard D. Lewis Street. The street runs for several blocks north and south in the neighborhood where Blakely Elementary School (later named Westside Elementary) was located and Professor Lewis served as the principal in the early ‘50s and ‘60s.
The Friday morning dedication kicked off the weekend of activities when Councilman Jon Plafcan officially renamed the street and presented a replica of the street sign to Dr. Nathan L. Lewis, the second son of Professor Lewis, and several family members. Mrs. Mildred Lewis, widow of Professor Lewis, a native of Carlisle, also attended the ceremony along with her four daughters and several granddaughters.
Later that evening Dr. Lewis was the guest speaker at a dinner catered by King Kat. He spoke of his fond memories of growing up in Carlisle that included fishing on Sundays and working with his dad who was also a skilled carpenter. Dr. Lewis explained that even though he was expecting his first grandchild within days of the Carlisle Day celebration, he could not have turned down the invitation to come and receive the great honor that was being bestowed upon his family that honored the legacy of his father.
The evening program also included the Citizen Spotlight Award, which was given to Mrs. Ruth Staten Hales, a Carlisle native now living in Inglewood, California.
Saturday morning was highlighted by a parade through downtown Carlisle, around the City Park and down the newly named Willard D. Lewis Street. The parade featured Thelma Cannon, Grand Marshal and, for the first time, queens and kings for Carlisle Day. Senior Queen was Ms. Annie Cooney and Senior King Mr. Jeremiah Staten. Junior Queen was Miss Stephanie Washington and Junior King was Mr. Christian Grayson.
Families returning to Carlisle for the Carlisle Day celebration came from several states that included Pasadena and Inglewood, California; Tampa Bay, Florida; Chicago, Illinois; Kansas City, Kansas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; St. Louis, Missouri; and Memphis, Tennessee and neighboring towns of Hazen, Little Rock, Lonoke, and Scott Arkansas. Attendance was near 300 for all activities with most attending the Saturday banquet themed “Motown: Live in Carlisle.” Entertainment include acts such as Jennifer Hudson singing “I Am Telling You,” Stevie Wonder, an original poem by Gem, Michael Jackson performing “Billie Jean”, Tina Turner performing “Rolling on the River” and dancers Ron and Florence Nichols. The banquet was catered by “Ruth’s Catering” and Annie Cooney.
The Carlisle Day Committee gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the Carlisle City Council, Carlisle Civic Center, Carlisle Parks and Recreation, the Carlisle Elementary School System, Wilson Digital Photography and Creative Graphics.