Not many people know why Thomson is known as the "Camellia City of the South," but the title was explained Tuesday night, Nov. 23, by Mayor Bob Knox, Jr. at the Camellia Seminar sponsored by McDuffie Master Gardeners.
According to an article in the American Camellia Yearbook 1950, Thomson designated itself "The Japonica City of the South" in 1913.
The name was officially adopted at the suggestion of Dr. W.H. Young who was then pastor of First Baptist Church.
In more recent times, WTWA radio station used similar wording as part of its slogan "Coming to you from the Camellia City of the South."
The change from "Japonica" to "Camellia" necessitated a new charter, signed and sealed by the mayor.
The change was announced at the dedication of a camellia park as a living memorial to McDuffie County citizens who were in the service of their country during World War I.
The camellia is prominently displayed on City of Thomson vehicles and on a patch on City of Thomson employee uniforms.
Mayor Knox told the 40 people attending the seminar at the library that Thomson "doesn't have near the camellias we need to have."
Thomson's Rotary Club has committed to help alleviate that problem by developing a centennial park featuring different varieties of camellias.
The park will be located next to the Thomson Fire Station on Main Street. Rotary Club members have already started working on the service project, including cutting several large trees and leveling part of the property.
Participants of the seminar also heard from Lee Poe and Jim Stutts, active members of the Aiken Chapter of the American Camellia Society.
Subjects covered included general culture and propagation. Aiken will also be the location of a camellia show in January. The show will be at the Aiken Mall Jan. 15 and 16.