Ringing bells at Fourteen Holy Helpers Catholic Church in West Seneca ushered in the beginning of the town's 150th anniversary celebration Sunday.
At a prayer service in the church, West Seneca Supervisor Paul T. Clark told about 100 people that it was important to remember the town's history.
"I think we should thank God for having been here the past 150 years," he said.
After the service, many crossed Union Road to see the opening of the Burchfield Sculpture Park at the Charles E. Burchfield Nature & Art Center. A trolley took people on a guided tour of historic West Seneca with actors from the West Seneca Youth Theatre.
The festivities will continue next weekend with rides, food, music and a parade on Saturday.
At the center, people milled about and took guided tours to see the 14 sculptures scattered throughout the park. Included in the sculptures were Mark Griffis' "Kickin' Up Our Heels," a brightly colored human figure with one foot in the air, and John Surra's "Landscape With Clouds," which overlooks Buffalo Creek from the park's amphitheater.
Jackie Albarella, executive director of the center, said the sculptures will stay in the park until mid-August before eventually returning to Griffis Sculpture Park in Ashford Hollow. She said the exhibit features two internationally known artists, Surra and Glenn Zweygardt, and all five of the artists are from Western New York.
The exhibit is unique because it is designed for the outdoors, Albarella said.
"Every (piece) was designed to be outside," she said. "Each one of the artists came down here and positioned them himself."
People are enjoying the sculptures, Albarella said. Many are still discovering the center, which has been open for a year, "and then they come across the sculptures and they think it's great," she said.
Albarella said children love to touch and climb on the sculptures. "The Spider," by Larry Griffis Jr., actually frightens some children, who inch a little closer to it and, "then they make friends with it and they're all over it," she said.
Visitors seemed to be enjoying the sculptures. "It hits you when you first come in," said Eddie Sawicki, 65, of Lackawanna.
Added John Lesniowsky, 72, of South Cheektowaga: "There's so many of them."
Nancy Rizzo, 41, of West Seneca, said her favorite sculpture is the colorful "Southwestern Passage" by Zweygardt.
"It's got colored glass in it," she said, noting that it lights up when the sun hits it.
The exhibit is supported by grants from several sources, and Albarella said the center is trying to raise enough money to make a permanent sculpture garden.
"We're hoping to buy a sculpture a year," she said.