Those present Saturday at the eighth annual Waxahachie Chautauqua Assembly in and around the Chautauqua Auditorium in Getzendaner Park took part in a tradition of learning and exploring the world of ideas as a caring and interconnected community.

Each assembly celebrates a particular subject by entertaining and educating attendees. This year’s theme invited participants to “experience the magic, mystery and the power of the wind.”

The assembly began with a performance by “So Noted,” a Waxahachie men’s vocal ensemble, followed by opening ceremonies that featured Waxahachie Chautauqua Preservation Society president Alan Maples and Waxahachie Mayor Joe Jenkins.

Opening ceremonies also included a visit from Capt. Getzendaner, played by Alan Searsy of the Waxahachie Community Theatre. Getzendaner reminisced of a time when West End Park, later renamed Getzendaner Park in his honor, was host to events for veterans, firemen’s picnics and family reunions.Those present Saturday at the eighth annual Waxahachie Chautauqua Assembly in and around the Chautauqua Auditorium in Getzendaner Park took part in a tradition of learning and exploring the world of ideas as a caring and interconnected community.

Each assembly celebrates a particular subject by entertaining and educating attendees. This year’s theme invited participants to “experience the magic, mystery and the power of the wind.”

The assembly began with a performance by “So Noted,” a Waxahachie men’s vocal ensemble, followed by opening ceremonies that featured Waxahachie Chautauqua Preservation Society president Alan Maples and Waxahachie Mayor Joe Jenkins.

Opening ceremonies also included a visit from Capt. Getzendaner, played by Alan Searsy of the Waxahachie Community Theatre. Getzendaner reminisced of a time when West End Park, later renamed Getzendaner Park in his honor, was host to events for veterans, firemen’s picnics and family reunions. “Then in 1899 things really got exciting,” Getzendaner said. “A group of citizens made a grand presentation.”

That presentation proposed that West End Park would be an ideal location for Chautauqua assemblies to be held.

“In October of that year, the front page of Waxahachie Enterprise read, ‘Waxahachie Gets It,’ ” said Getzendaner, saying the main reason Waxahachie was chosen was “the 23 beautifully shaded acres - and more, if necessary” that could be used.

During the early days of Chautauqua, West End Park became a city within a city.

“It (the park) was called ‘little city,’” said Getzendaner, who listed businesses and amenities at the park during Chautauqua to include a restaurant, a two-chair barbershop, a post office and much more.

“We even had night watchmen,” Getzendaner said.

Thousands came to camp - from Texas, Oklahoma and beyond - to hear speakers, see performances, attend Bible studies and participate in everything the event had to offer.

“One year, they dammed up the creek so folks could go boating,” Getzendaner said.

Searsy’s performance also included reading a poem written by a Waxahachie resident about West End Park and the 1903 Chautauqua experience. The first line of the poem was, “Could we find a spot more lovely?”

WFAA-TV Channel 8 meteorologist Steve McCauley took the stage at 1 p.m. to present “Forecasting: Here Comes the Wind!”

As a young boy growing up in West Virginia, McCauley dreamed of being an astronomer, saying this all changed one day when he was hit in the back of the head with hail at the age of 9.

At Texas Tech University, while studying to become a meteorologist, McCauley served as a member of the tornado team. Seven years ago, his first day on the job as meteorologist for Channel 8 was the day of the Fort Worth tornado.

McCauley explained the importance of understanding wind to the group that gathered in the auditorium to learn more on the subject.

“Without understanding wind, you can’t understand weather,” McCauley said. “The wind is very complex.”

McCauley discussed the chaos of the wind, but said that from chaos can come order.

McCauley also read a passage from the Bible, Ecclesiastes 1:6, “The wind goeth toward the south and turneth about to the north; it whirleth about continuously and then returns again to its own course.”

Those in attendance received handouts with a Beaufort Wind Speed Scale and mathematical equations and charts explaining the equation of motion and wind speed.

“Before you can understand chaos, you must speak its language … and I’m talking about mathematics,” said McCauley, saying mathematics is the “universal language.”

Chautauqua was set to continue throughout the afternoon and into the evening, with the day’s activities concluding with a pie social and performance by the Dallas Wind Symphony.

For more information about the Waxahachie Chautauqua Preservation Society, call (972) 937-8887, e-mail info@WaxahachieChautauqua.org or visit www.WaxahachieChautauqua.org.

E-mail Jennifer at jennifer.howell@waxahachiedailylight.com