While the state's Sesquicentennial celebration will go down in the books as a success, I couldn't help being a little underwhelmed by the opening ceremonies on the south steps of the Capitol on West Virginia Day.
Not to say that there was anything wrong with the governor's speech, the reading of excerpts from "A Song for West Virginia" by poet laureate Marc Harshman, or the singing of "The West Virginia Hills" by the Cabell-Midland High School Show Choir.
Yet, it seemed to pale in comparison with what occurred on the same location exactly 50 years earlier, when President John F. Kennedy keynoted the Centennial celebration.
News accounts indicate more than 5,000 people braved a steady rain to attend that event. Attendance Thursday, I would guess, was closer to 500. It would be generous to say two-thirds of the seats on the south plaza were filled.
Of course, there'll probably never again be circumstances where a president will be so indebted to West Virginia for his election to warrant such participation as Kennedy was. Still, having the governor for the keynoter just isn't quite as compelling.
(U.S. Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin were on the bill, but couldn't attend because of a key floor vote on the immigration legislation.)
One spectator quipped that the highest-ranking U.S. official represented at Thursday's ceremonies wasn't the president, or even a cabinet member, but an attorney for the U.S. Postal Service.
While the state will pick up most of the tab for the Sesquicentennial (what a shame, now that I finally learned to spell it I'll never need to use it again), corporate sponsors came through with more than $400,000 of support (including in-kind contributions).
Platinum sponsors ($25,000 contributions) were Appalachian Power, AT&T, Bristol Broadcasting, the Dickinson Family, United Bank, West Virginia Lottery, and West Virginia Radio Corp.
Gold sponsors ($15,000) were the Clay Center, CGI, EQT, Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia and West Virginia Beer Wholesalers.
Silver sponsors ($10,000) were Auge+Gray Collective Works, Charleston Newspapers, Designs by Sara Lane and Wal-Mart.
There were also 18 Bronze sponsors ($5,000), including Alpha Natural Resources, Charleston Area Medical Center, The Greenbrier, Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, Toyota, West Virginia American Water, West Virginia Coal Association and the West Virginia Hospital Association.