Ohio communities to mark 100th birthday of late John Glenn

COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Glenn’s birthplace and childhood hometown in Ohio are joining forces to celebrate what would have been the history-making astronaut and U.S. senator’s 100th birthday with a three-day festival.

Glenn, who died in 2016, was the first American to orbit Earth, making him a national hero in 1962. Before that, he served as a military fighter pilot in World War II and the Korean War and set a transcontinental air speed record. In 1998, he became the oldest person ever to go into space at 77. He spent 24 years as a Democrat in the U.S. Senate.

Running Friday through Sunday, the John Glenn Centennial Celebration is a collaboration between Cambridge, where Glenn was born on July 18, 1921, and nearby New Concord, where he grew up and met his late wife, Annie. Annie Glenn died last year at 100 of complications from COVID-19.

The celebration will include a Friendship 7-Miler race between the two communities and a Friendship 7 parade, both named for the aircraft Glenn rode during his famous orbit.

Also planned are a presentation by space shuttle astronaut and fellow Ohioan Don Thomas, rocket car rides, space movies and rides in the type of biplane a young Glenn flew over Cambridge to become hooked on aviation.

Columbus’ airport is named in Glenn’s honor, as is the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State University, which the Glenns founded. The college’s dean, Trevor Brown, is among the weekend’s many speakers.

Free walk-through tours of the John & Annie Glenn Museum in New Concord, musical presentations and children’s science activities are further offerings of the weekend. An exhibit of artworks themed around the Glenns and John Glenn’s 1964 Corvair Monza convertible also will be on display.

Several commemorations of Glenn’s birth a century ago are taking place in the area all month, including a “Savor the Flavor” John Glenn Food Trail and community discussions of a Glenn biography sponsored by the Guernsey County Public Library.