Setting aside contracts and legal battles, the town of Jim Thorpe will celebrate the life and legacy of its Native American Indian namesake this weekend. The 18th annual Jim Thorpe Birthday Celebration will take place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Festivities will kick off with a Native American Indian tribute featuring Don Wild Eagle at the Jim Thorpe Mausoleum on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. The ceremony will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Thorpe being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

At 11 a.m., the Jim Thorpe High School Olympians cross country and track teams will carry a lighted torch from the mausoleum to Jim Thorpe High School Stadium. After lighting the torch for the Carbon County Special Olympics track and field competition there, the runners will proceed through town to Josiah White Park at the train station where they will light the Olympic torch.

Upon arrival at the park at noon, special medals will be awarded to the cross country, track, and cheerleading teams as well as to their coaches. In addition, State Representative Doyle Heffley of the 122nd Legislative District will read a proclamation by the Pennsylvania House declaring Saturday, May 18, 2013 "James Francis Thorpe Day" throughout the Commonwealth. A large birthday cake will then be presented, cut, and available throughout the weekend.

Special guests scheduled to participate in the festivities this weekend include Jim Thorpe's grandson John Thorpe of Lake Tahoe, CA; Gunilla Lyden from Olympic Stadium in Stockholm, Sweden; retired Sports Director Chuck Gentile and his wife, Wanda, of Carlisle, PA; United States Army War College dignitaries; and Coach George "Chuck" Hanna's 1971-72 Jim Thorpe High School Olympians basketball team known collectively as "The Iron Five" Dan Albeck, George Albert, Don Herman, Jim Thorpe Kmetz, and Jim Zurn.

Throughout the weekend, there will be free musical performances; Native American Indian folklore, dancing, and drumming; craft and food vendors; a clown; a large Chinese Auction; and more.

"I feel that it's so important to celebrate the accomplishments of Jim Thorpe the man," said Jim Thorpe Birthday Celebration Event Coordinator Anne Marie Fitzpatrick.

Ray Brader, Co-Event Coordinator, was quick to add, "Especially this year, being the 50th anniversary of his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame."

For more information about the birthday celebration, sponsored by Jim Thorpe Tourism Agency (formerly known as Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce), contact event coordinators Brader and Fitzpatrick at Nature's Trail at (570) 325-9281 or at amnt1@ptd.net or visit www.JimThorpe.org.