August 25, 2016 marked the 100 year anniversary of the National Park Service. The Yosemite NPS Centennial Celebration was one for the ages. Arrangements were made for an historic event when Superintendent Don Neubacher and his staff developed a brilliant idea from a very creative Yosemite community member. Les Marsden composed “Our Nation’s Nature” to be performed by the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra in a special concert at Glacier Point in honor of four significant park anniversaries. This once in a lifetime event culminated the last of those four special commemorations.
Special Celebration in Yosemite National Park with Historic Glacier Point Concert
By John P. DeGrazio
As a Yosemite National Park Centennial Ambassador, it has been my honor to help promote the Yosemite NPS Centennial Celebration by sharing photos throughout the park this year. Les Marsden also happens to be a very close friend of mine. We both volunteer for an organization called the Yosemite Gateway Partners, and his idea was conceptualized at one of our meetings. Les and I are both honorary ambassadors so we went on a couple of adventures this month to share some photos of Yosemite during the celebration.
Our first adventure was a late afternoon exploration of Sentinel Dome. The wind was whipping and very few people remained, but it did not stop us from admiring the beautiful landscape. We marveled at all the surrounding majesty. Les had not been up on a peak in a few years so he gleefully bounced from rock to rock in utter amazement.
Sharing Yosemite with visitors has been very rewarding for me, and I relish every opportunity, especially with friends.
Yosemite NPS Centennial Celebration
On the day of the concert, I was slightly fearful I may miss the opportunity to witness history. My day began at 5 am at the trailhead for Half Dome. Fourteen hours were allotted for the 16 mile hike which hopefully would end in time for an hour drive up to the concert at Glacier Point.
The Half Dome journey began innocently enough as we made our way to the cables under clear skies. Unfortunately, our luck turned. Clouds enveloped the dome and we were hit by a brief shower as the group crested the Sub Dome.
There was some thunder in the distance so we were in a holding pattern. The rain did not last more than ten minutes, and we were able to make a summit attempt when the wind shifted to push the clouds away from us. Blue skies reappeared and we happily squeezed through the window. This dramatic landscape greeted us on our very short stay at the top.
Luckily, the return trip to Yosemite Valley was uncomplicated. I arrived at Glacier Point as the concert began. The collective euphoria of the crowd was obvious. The orchestra performed passionately as the notes echoed off the granite walls. I sat in wonder when the night sky darkened the stage. My eyes were fixed on the stars as the music continued. The event was a transformative experience that every member of the audience will remember forever.
August 25th arrived and Yosemite celebrated with a final ceremony in Yosemite Valley. Author Terry Tempest Williams graced the crowd of predominantly NPS staff and local partners of the park. Her eloquence was captivating, and she shared several poignant moments that allowed the audience several reflective moments. Ranger Gabriel was also a speaker this day, and his words were very inspirational.
Les and I took one more opportunity to adventure when the ceremony ended. Fittingly, we found ourselves on the Mist Trail at Vernal Fall. Our month had ended the way it began. We were two visitors admiring this magnificent park on an historic day.