Five other times the town of Plains turned out to celebrate with the Carters

Credit: Ben Gray /

Credit: Ben Gray /

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter publicly celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary this weekend in their hometown at the old Plains High School. Here are five other recent times their neighbors turned out to celebrate with the former president and first lady.

2014: Ice cream social

Former President Jimmy Carter marked his 90th birthday with an ice cream social in Plains. “Our kinfolk, our neighbors, our childhood friends still live here,” Carter explained in a phone interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2014, from “the only home we’ve ever owned” — the modest ranch house he and Rosalynn built in Plains in 1961. That was just before his 90th birthday, when Plains threw an ice cream party for him. For the ice cream party, the AJC reported, invitations appeared at the homes of everyone with a rural route address or P.O. box in Plains. During the party, Carter planted himself between the crowd and the table of goodies, so “you’ll have to shake my hand to get ice cream.” Read the full story.

2015: ‘Carter for Cancer Survivor’ signs

This community project has an AJC connection, but the execution was a glimpse into the unique relationship between the Carters and their neighbors. When Carter was diagnosed with cancer, the AJC’s Mike Luckovich drew an editorial cartoon with two of his recurring characters posting a yard sign that said, “Jimmy Carter for Cancer Survivor.”

In Plains, the nonprofit Friends of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site turned the cartoon message into yard signs and placed them around town. They wanted them up by the time Carter arrived home following a radiation treatment in Atlanta. Read the full story.

RELATED: Video: Mike Luckovich cartoon marks Carters’ 75th wedding anniversary

2016: Carter announced at church that he was cancer-free

A year after the get-well signs were posted across Plains, Carter went to his church, Maranatha Baptist, to share the news that his cancer was gone. Carter, who taught a weekly Sunday school at the church for years, stood up on this September Sunday to announce the news, which was greeted with loud applause. His response to the applause: “So a lot of people prayed for me,” he said, according to the AJC story. “And I appreciate that.” Read the full story.

2019: Carter returns to Sunday school, and it’s “Breaking News”

Two weeks after fracturing his pelvis in a fall, the former president was ready to return to teaching Sunday school. Maranatha Baptist posted the update on its church website under a heading of “Breaking News.” The notice said: “President Carter WILL BE teaching Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019 ... We look forward to seeing you here.” The classes led by Carter were popular with visitors to Plains but they also had a steady following from Carter’s fellow church members. His pastor, Tony Lowden, heard from Carter after he left the hospital that he wanted to teach. “President Carter said that it was important to him and I will do whatever I can to support him,” Lowden said at the time. “His goal is to tell everybody about Christ. That is what he is passionate about.” Read the full story.

2020: A COVID-era birthday parade

Many events were disrupted in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. Jimmy Carter’s 96th birthday in October 2020 was celebrated differently, but it was not overlooked by his neighbors. They organized a parade, which Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, watched from chairs at the end of their driveway. More than 200 cars, peanut wagons and decorated golf carts drove past, and the Carter’s watched, smiled and waved. Read the full story.

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