1904: Theodor Seuss Geisel born March 2 in Springfield, Mass.
1925: Geisel graduates from Dartmouth College.
1927: Marries Helen Palmer, begins career as freelance cartoonist.
1937: “And to think that I saw It on Mulberry Street” published.
1940: “Horton Hatches The Egg” published.
1943-45: Serves in the Army Signal Corps.
1947: Seuss and his wife team to write Academy Award-winning documentary “Design for Death.”
1950: “If I Ran the Zoo” published.
1954: “Horton Hears a who!” published.
1957: “The Cat in the Hat” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” published.
1958: “Yertle the Turtle” published.
1960: “One Fish, two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” and “Green Eggs and Ham” published.
1961: “The Sneetches and other Stories” published.
1963: “Hop on Pop” published.
1966: The animated “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” film debuts on CBS.
1970: “Horton Hears a who!” gets the TV animation treatment.
1971: “The Lorax” published.
1978: Wins Emmy for “Halloween is Grinch Night” TV special.
1982: Another Emmy, for “The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat.”
1984: Wins Pulitzer Prize for his contribution to children’s literature.
1990: “Oh, The Places You’ll go!” published.
1991: Seuss dies on Sept. 24.
2000: Live action remake of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” kicks off a decade of Seuss film adaptations.
2004: Seuss earns a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Redraw the maps: As of tonight, Abilene is officially a suburb of Dr. Seuss’ Whoville.
No less a distinguished figure than Mayor Norm Archibald is scheduled to make the proclamation at 6:30 p.m. in downtown Everman Park, officially kicking off a weekend of Seussian whimsy, color and entertainment across town.
Tonight’s ArtWalk marks the beginning of the Children’s Art & Literacy Festival, a Seuss-themed summer blockbuster for Abilene. Referred to as “the CALF,” the festival will transform downtown into a playground of activities and artistic diversions for families. With events scheduled throughout the weekend, the CALF serves as the culmination of a full year of coordination between Abilene’s arts organizations.
The goal is nothing less than to brand Abilene as a family destination with a premier, annual festival.
“We’ve seen many families travel out of Abilene, to Fort Worth, to Austin, to San Antonio, to attend events,” said Beverly Guthrie, festival chairwoman. “We want to have a destination event of our own.”
To make that happen, organizers held nothing back for the festival’s first year, building it around children’s literature’s most venerated author. Dr. Seuss’ characters will be present at the event in the form of costumed performers, bronze statues, public book readings, movie screenings and more. It’s a packed itinerary, with more items than the publicity brochure could contain, Guthrie said.
While the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council helped to spearhead festival planning, Guthrie said dozens of organizations large and small pitched in time and resources to make the festival a reality, from the downtown art organizations to Dyess Air Force Base to Goodwill.
For her part, Guthrie has made some executive decisions while also serving as official keeper for festival mascot Mini Moo, a young zebu (a species of South Asian calf — get it?). Guthrie and her diminutive companion visited thousands of Abilene schoolchildren in the spring, helping to underscore the mission beneath the pageantry: instilling a love of art and reading in young Abilenians.
All the while, organizers have made sure to carry the favor of the Seuss Foundation, whose blessing has allowed all of this to happen. The foundation can get quite particular about how characters like the Cat in the Hat, Lorax and Grinch are represented — going so far as to send over character sheets with personality traits that costumed performers must follow.
While downtown Abilene will be the epicenter for festival activities, which begin at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday, the CALF also features happenings at the Abilene Zoo.
The buildup to the festival has included the debut of Seuss-themed art exhibits at the Center for Contemporary Arts in may and the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature earlier this month.
Burgess “Bird” Thomas, the self-styled “curator of fun learning experiences” at the CCA, said foot traffic at the center’s Dr. Seuss art retrospective has included plenty of people who never before bothered to note Abilene’s existence.
“We had one gentleman from Arkansas who said, ‘Yeah, I’ve passed through Abilene before. And I do mean passed through,’ ” Thomas said.
But his granddaughter found out about the Seuss exhibit through the Internet, and unable to say no to her, he agreed to stop in town. he and his family wound up making a weekend of it.
In addition to her role at the CCA, Thomas also has taken up the furry mantel of the Cat in the Hat, portraying the mischievous feline in full costume at numerous occasions around town. As much as she enjoys the role, wearing a thick pelt in the Texas heat can be less than comfortable.
“I was it every three days, because I sweat a gallon every time I wear it,” Thomas said.
Meanwhile, organizers already are looking forward to building the CALF into an annual tradition. Lynn Barnett, director of the Cultural Affairs Council, said next year’s festival will most likely revolve around the work of author Walter Wick, famous for his intricately eye-straining “I Spy” books. The NCCIL will host a selection of Wick’s art next June, complete with take-away activities for children.
Registration for CALF events costs $12 for adults and $7 for children. To sign up and plan an itinerary, visit abilenecac.org/calf.