On the 122nd birthday of the "Athlete of the 20th Century," Jim Thorpe was celebrated throughout the community that bears his name this past weekend.
In his honor, visiting Native Americans, along with borough residents, and the Jim Thorpe Area High School cross country team, paid tribute to the athlete at his mausoleum on North Street on the east side of the town.
In addition to the tribute paid to Jim Thorpe by Don Wild Eagle, the event was made more memorable with the performance of Native American dances in his memory.
Don Wild Eagle's son Wakine Starcloud performed a "Hoop" dance, where many intricate designs representing things in nature are created with several hoops during the dance.
Near the conclusion of the ceremonies, a "round" dance was performed. In a large circle of the Native American visitors, high school athletes and anybody else in the audience who wanted to participate, danced slowly around the circle with Native American music playing in the background.
Following the round dance, a torch was lit with the "Flame of Hope," to be carried by the high school cross country team over to the nearby high school stadium, where it would light the Olympic Torch for the Special Olympics track and field competition, which was held after the mausoleum services.
It was an appropriate way to celebrate the birthday of "the Greatest Athlete in the World," as Jim Thorpe was called by King Gustav of Sweden during the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden, where Jim Thorpe won gold medals in both the Pentathlon and Decathlon.
In addition to the Native American tribute at his final resting place, and the Special Olympics track and field competition at the high school stadium, the birthday celebration continued at Josiah White Park in downtown Jim Thorpe where over a two-day period on Saturday and Sunday, many hundreds of people attended festivities celebrating his birthday.