MeckDec Day on May 20 is the best holiday in Charlotte because it’s a true Charlotte holiday, commemorating an event that happened here in 1775.

A year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, leaders here signed a resolution breaking our bond with Great Britain. The document was read publicly on the courthouse steps May 20 and carried by Captain James Jack on horseback to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia a few days later. (Where it was mostly ignored, but still …)

[Related: Meck Dec Day is May 20. What in the world is Meck Dec Day?]

Learn about the history of MeckDec Day and also the controversy — Some naysayers deny that the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence ever existed. Charlotte Museum of History’s Charlotte 240 Digital History Project digs deeper into the controversy.

But let’s not dwell on the controversy. Let’s talk about the celebration, which has taken place on May 20 for more than 150 years.

MeckDec Day used to be an even bigger deal in Charlotte. President William Howard Taft attended in 1909. Courtesy of the Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenburg County
MeckDec Day used to be an even bigger deal in Charlotte. President William Howard Taft attended in 1909. Courtesy of the Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenburg County

May 20th MeckDec Day Commemoration

This is the official celebration, the granddaddy of them all organized by the May 20th Society. At noon on Friday, May 20, gather on The Square at Trade and Tryon Streets, for a patriotic celebration.

Military and Colonial reenactors will read the document out loud and fire cannons. Expect fifes and drums and plenty of marching.

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This year a historical marker honoring the signing of the document will be unveiled.

One modern addition to the party will be Revolutionary segwalloons. Segwallons, balloons wrapped around Segways, are another Charlotte original, first seen in Charlotte’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

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From there, walk to Settler’s Cemetery at 5th and Church Streets, where a new marker will be dedicated to Revolutionary War patriot Ephraim Brevard.

MeckDec documents on display

While you’re uptown for the noontime commemoration — or any time between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m Friday — drop in at Founders Hall to see some original documents associated with the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.

These documents have lain dormant at the Wilson Library at UNC Chapel Hill for decades. Included are the rough notes of John McKnitt Alexander, where he describes the writing and signing of the Declaration, a clear and legible account (author unknown) describing the whole story, and a copy of the MeckDec that John McKnitt Alexander gave to Revolutionary War General William R. Davie in 1800.

This is a rare chance to see these mysterious documents in person and local historians are pretty excited about it.

Captain James Jack took the MecDec to the Continental Congress from Charlotte in 1775.
Captain James Jack took the MeckDec to the Second Continental Congress from Charlotte in 1775.

The Charlotte Museum of History Celebration

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 21, The Charlotte Museum of History invites the community to its free MeckDec Day celebration.

This is a great way to introduce kids to MeckDec Day. Activities include making your own MeckDec book and touring the Hezekiah Alexander Home Site. Cake and lemonade are free for all, too.

The Charlotte Museum of History, 3500 Shamrock Drive.

[Related: 9 reasons The Charlotte Museum of History is cooler than you probably think.]

MeckDec Day at the Ballpark with the Charlotte Knights

The Charlotte Knights game at 6:05 p.m. Saturday, May 21, against the Gwinnett Braves will feature some MeckDec festivities. Historical re-enactors will greet fans and a MeckDec Day movie will be shown on the big screen. Captain Jack himself will throw out the first pitch.

Charlotte Knights, BB&T Ballpark, 324 South Mint Street.

MeckDec Day at Ramblewood Stadium with the Charlotte Independence

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Soccer fans will get a chance to celebrate at the 7 p.m. Saturday, May 21, game against FC Cincinnati. The first 500 fans will receive a MeckDec Day commemorative koozie and there will be a history trivia contest.

Also, use promo code MECK16 when you order tickets online and get a discount.

Charlotte Independence, Ramblewood Stadium, 10200 Nations Ford Road.

Charlotte Trivia Night at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

From 5-7 p.m. Friday, May 20, show off your Charlotte history knowledge and compete for prizes. Also enjoy a pint of OMB’s Captain James Jack Pilsner. It features the intoxicating taste of freedom in every swig.

Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, 4150 Yancey Road.

Photos: Todd Sumlin/Charlotte Observer; John D. Simmons/Charlotte Observer; File photo

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