1932 July 4th celebration included baseball, epic fireworks

In the ancient Roman Republic, there was an elected official with the title of aedile. The aediles preserved public buildings and temples, maintained the city’s infrastructure, managed the public water and grain supplies, regulated public markets and organized festivals. The aedileship was one of the offices held by Romans on thecursus honorum (course of honor), the path politically ambitious citizens took to become consul. We call such people today “career politicians.” Many famous novels were aediles including Marcus Cicero and Julius Caesar.

The aedile role disappeared under the emperors. But today we can find modern analogs in building commissioners and historic preservation officers. The Muncie Sanitary District and the Public Works Department both discharge some “aedilic” duties, as does the Parks Department. But who plans the city’s festivals? Historically, such tasks often fell on the mayor’s office, a steering committee, or some other department head.

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