It has been a busy weekend in our little town! Concord, Mass. was incorporated on September 12, 1635, and the townspeople are pulling out all the stops to celebrate our 375th birthday. I know that may not sound like much to European readers of this blog, but, it’s a lot of years around here (and we’re not alone; the towns of Newbury and Hingham also celebrate 375 years in 2010).
When I read that the bulk of the festivities (awesome parade, mini concerts, and Birthday Ball) were scheduled for September 11, it gave me pause. Was it right to be so upbeat, so happy and even silly on a day that we connect with the devastation of the terrorist attacks nine years ago? I paused only briefly, however; this is the date the town was incorporated and thus the appropriate day to celebrate.
Vox Concordia kicked off the weekend on Friday night. This was a panel of a dozen Concordians, speaking for 10 minutes each about the imprint the town has left on them, and the impact the community has made. My favorite speakers were those who wove the spirit of the town into their presentations – a farmer (who made a point that he has lived all of his 75 years in Concord, sharing 20% of its history) spoke about “the cows of Concord,” sharing stories about former grazing pasture and a milk processing facility where the Dunkin Donuts and Mobil station stand now; a local author spoke about the childhood memories his own children are building, then launched into a delightful story of play-acting when he was a kid, ending with the truism “there’s no place like home;” another resident, who is active in the Drinking Gourd Project, took us on an imaginary stroll through town, stopping at places connected with African and Abolitionist history. It was an interesting evening, with stories from many perspectives.
Our bright and sunny Saturday began at 10 a.m. in the staging area for the parade. LW8 and LM6 were marching with their elementary school; the parent group had constructed an awesome float with the theme Bronson Goes Global. Bronson Owl is the school mascot, named for the first superintendent of Concord schools, Bronson Alcott. Children were asked to wear either their school t-shirt or something that represented a place they travelled this summer – a flag from another country, perhaps a World Cup Jersey, etc. Since we vacationed in the Cape (where there were shark sightings and beach closings), I suggested my daughter wear a bathing suit over her shorts and tee, with goggles on her head, and that my son wear his shark t-shirt, with a home-made “fin” hat. You guessed it, they nixed my ideas and went for the spirit-wear t-shirts instead!
I’m adding a few photos from the parade in this post – volunteers with the library marched with decorated book carts, and children dressed as their favorite characters. One cart was covered with hardhats and construction material in recognition of the big expansion to our branch library.
The Orchard House, home of Louisa May Alcott’s family, had a beautiful float depicting the building. A few children in period costume rode the float, as did Jan Turnquist, the director of the non-profit and a very knowledgeable and talented portrayer of the author.
Barefoot Books recently moved their flagship store from Cambridge to Concord. I haven’t yet written a Spotlight on Bookstores post about the shop, but when I do, you’ll see the amazing bright colors used in the exterior and interior decor. This car drove behind their volunteers marchers; the colors and design match the store’s polka-dot chimney!
When the kids reached the end of the parade route, we walked back to see the rest of the floats, marchers, and performers come in. It was really something, with units from all over – a contingent of unicyclists from Maine, folk band from Pennsylvania, and historic reenactors (representing every era!) from all over. And of course, the SITFOB family enjoyed ice cream for lunch (“pumpkin pie” is back for fall!).
Last night was the “adults only” formal bash; we danced until midnight, then walked the mile home. J’s logic was that cars weren’t around 375 years ago, so we should use foot power. Of course, he wasn’t wearing heels! I had the foresight to pack flip-flops for walking … and a flashlight!
More concerts and a big fireworks display are scheduled for tonight – it’s cloudy now, but all signs indicate that the show will go on!