Bonnie and Don Orris as the Mahanays. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Celebration of Bell Tower’s 50th underway

Special to The Jefferson Herald
A six-month-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Mahanay Memorial Carillon Tower in Jefferson starts Sunday with a 2 p.m. program at the Greene County Historical Museum.

Floyd and Dora Mahanay, deceased since 1947 and 1962 respectively, are making another appearance to speak directly to Greene Countians of today. They will tell us about their lives, how they decided to donate $350,000 to build the tower and what they wanted it to become.  

You’ll even be able to ask them questions.

The Mahanays will be portrayed by Bonnie and Don Orris, of Jefferson, just as they were a year ago at a History Walk on the Greene County courthouse square. On that day, the first set of historical plaques on the Square were celebrated, with people of today portraying the notable leaders of yesteryear whose stories are told on the plaques.

Sunday’s free, hour-long program, “Mahanay Bell Tower — Past, Present and Future,” will start with a presentation by the Mahanays.

Pat Richards, who is tour guide coordinator at the tower, will speak about current events and operations of the tower, including staffing, new furnishings and souvenirs, growing attendance and the possibility of events being scheduled for the 140-foot-high observation deck.

Discussing the future of the tower will be Carole Custer, president of the Bell Tower Community Foundation.  

She’ll talk about the new $440,000 public campaign to add new bells, with the goal of achieving a 47-bell, four-octave carillon.

The Orrises say they have been guided in their portrayal of the Mahanays by an extended audio interview that former Jefferson radio station owner Rolfe Blaess did decades ago with people who had known the philanthropic couple.

“Those interviews Rolfe did have so much valuable community history in them,” said Don Orris, a retired hardware store owner.

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