NORFOLK (NNS) -- Naval Station Norfolk kicked off its centennial year by celebrating its pre-Navy beginnings, Jan. 26.
More than 175 people gathered for the event to honor the past, present, and future of the world's largest naval station.
The evening began with a reception at the Pennsylvania House and abbreviated concert by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Following the concert Capt. Doug Beaver, NAVSTA Norfolk commanding officer, welcomed the guests and thanked all those who made the event possible.
"I want to begin with a huge 'thank you' to all of the Dillingham residents who have opened their homes tonight," said Beaver. "Your support and generosity was absolutely crucial in making this a truly memorable event. Thank you to the Hampton Roads Naval Museum for the docents who will provide a historical framework for us tonight, and the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums Unit for the pageantry on display this evening."
"Thank you also to the Slover Library for the display items you see here in the Pennsylvania House," he continued. "And last but not least, to the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Feldman Chamber Music Society, and Hampton Roads Chamber Players for the musical support. Your collective support is a testament to the strong bond between the U.S. Navy and the cities of Hampton Roads."
Beaver then introduced the 72nd Commonwealth of Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe. McAuliffe spoke and signed a proclamation recognizing 100 years of Naval Station Norfolk in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
"What a significant year this is for not only Naval Station Norfolk, but the entire state of Virginia," said McAuliffe. "The impact the base has had on our great state is immeasurable, and we look forward to another 100 years of a growth and partnership between the state of Virginia and Naval Station Norfolk."
Following the proclamation, John Pentangelo, director of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum talked about the significance of the Jamestown Exposition and also the great partnership between the base and museum. The museum staff organized and created content for the events historic home tours and shared exhibits with guests at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum's annex, H-9.
"The exposition was a celebration of the tricentennial for the Jamestown colony, the first permanent English settlement in America," said Pentangelo. "The exposition was very similar to the world's fairs of the time. When the Navy chose to build a base here, Sewells Point, with its many exposition structures still standing, was an ideal choice for a location. So seemingly separate, the exposition and the origins of the base are forever linked."
"The Hampton Roads Naval Museum is honored to be a part of this event and will always be available to assist in commemorating and educating others on our shared naval history in Hampton Roads and beyond," he added. "Our partnership with the naval station is truly one of the reasons for our museum's success."
Following the festivities, the guests were led out of the Pennsylvania House by the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums unit to begin the home tours. Thirteen of the exposition homes, along with the Hampton Roads Naval Museum Annex, were available for the guests to tour.
While the kickoff event focused on the beginnings of Naval Station Norfolk, the centennial year will also look into the future of the installation.
"Just as important as highlighting the past, we also look into the future," said Beaver. "The centennial kicks off a second century of Naval Station Norfolk's exceptional service to the fleet, fighter, and family."
Upcoming events include a throw-back softball game in June celebrating and highlighting the historic McClure Field and the 1943 Navy World Series. In July, the base will be holding an air show highlighting Chambers Field and then conclude the year showcasing modern day Naval Station Norfolk with Fleet Fest Oct. 21.
The City of Norfolk is also planning a year full of celebrations for the base's 100th anniversary. Leading the effort is the Naval Station Norfolk Centennial Commission which City Council in September 2016.
More than 35 events throughout the year will honor and celebrate naval station's 100th anniversary. The 41st Harborfest along Norfolk's downtown waterfront will be the signature event. The festivities will create a "homecoming" for those who have ever served at Naval Station Norfolk.
"We are very excited for the centennial celebration of Naval Station Norfolk; a series of diverse events have been planned that will appeal to everyone," said Mayor Kenneth Alexander, City of Norfolk. "I wish to thank our commission and the members of 'Team Norfolk' who will continue to work hard to make this celebration memorable."
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For more news from Naval Station Norfolk, visit www.navy.mil/local/nsn/.