Local News

Sunday, Apr 06 2014 06:16 PM

Hag's birthday bash fun even without the icon

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Merle Haggard's sister, Lillian Haggard Rea, speaks to hundreds in front of the Harley Davidson dealership after the unveiling of a plaque honoring her brother. Standing next to her is Merle's nephew, Jim Haggard, center, and Glenda Rankin. An effort is underway to move Haggard's old boxcar home in Oildale to the Kern County Museum.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Dianne Sharman escorts Merle Haggard's sister, Lillian Haggard Rea, to cut the ribbon to unveil a plaque honoring her brother in front of the Harley Davidson dealership on Merle Haggard Drive Sunday.

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  3. 3 of 12

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Randy Emmett with the Bluetooth Cowboys comes out into the audience at Merle Haggard's birthday celebration held at the Kern County Museum Sunday. Hundreds of people gathered to show support of an effort to move Haggard's old boxcar home in Oildale to the Kern County Museum.

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  4. 4 of 12

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Mark and Dianne Sharman dance to the Bakersfield Sound music played by the Tommy Hays band at the Harley Davidson dealership during a celebration of Merle Haggard's birthday.

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  5. 5 of 12

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Lillian Haggard Rea speaks about her brother Merle Haggard during a celebration of his birthday at the Kern County Museum.

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  6. 6 of 12

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    People stop by to get a glimpse of Merle Haggard's birthday cake before they cut into it at Merle's birthday celebration at the Kern County Museum.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Don and Rose Andreatta find a place to dance at Merle Haggard's birthday celebration at the Kern County Museum Sunday.

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  8. 8 of 12

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Sisters Dianne Sharman, left, and Glenda Rankin sang happy birthday to Merle Haggard during a birthday celebration for Merle at the Kern County Museum Sunday. The ladies are spearheading an effort to move Merle's childhood boxcar home in Oildale to the Kern County Museum.

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  9. 9 of 12

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Daniel Ince holds his son Daniel Jr. on his shoulders as they get a piece of Merle Haggard's birthday cake during a celebration for Merle at the Kern County Museum Sunday.

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  10. 10 of 12

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Susan and Aleda Denton enjoy a piece of Merle Haggard's birthday cake at a celebration honoring the country music star at the Kern County Museum Sunday.

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  11. 11 of 12

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Manuel and Jan Villarreal dance to good country music at Merle Haggard's birthday celebration at the Kern County Museum.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Merle Haggard's birthday cake from a celebration held at the Kern County Museum.

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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

Hag wasn't there but hundreds of his fans flocked to Oildale and Bakersfield Sunday to honor his 77th birthday and his major contributions to the Bakersfield Sound.

A plaque unveiled at the Bakersfield Harley-Davidson store on Merle Haggard Drive commemorates the naming of the eponymous road in 2008.

Later, at the Kern County Museum, a free music show featuring, among others, the Bluetooth Cowboys, entertained a large crowd that also enjoyed birthday cake and ice cream.

Glenda Rankin, who along with her sister, Dianne Sharman, is spearheading the effort to move Haggard's boyhood home to the museum's grounds, formed the nonprofit Citizens Preserving History to make it happen.

"I think all history is important," Rankin said. "It's so important for our children to learn about their history and past."

They've raised about half of the $100,000 needed to move the house.

"I've been involved with the Kern Historical Society for many years," said Hag's older sister, Lillian Haggard Rea, 93, who relaxed Sunday under a large umbrella while listening to the music. Her late husband, William, was president of the society.

"This has turned out to be history," she said of her childhood home. "And no better place for it could there be than the museum."

Anyone interested in contributing to the effort can visit citizenspreservinghistory.com or call 867-2511.

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