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Plymouth To Celebrate 250th Anniversary

Christine Randall - July 8, 2013





Plymouth Town Hall

Bunting on the Plymouth Town Hall marks the celebration of the town’s 150th anniversary.

If you have happened to be in downtown Plymouth recently, you may have noticed that the yellow center lines along Main Street have changed in color to red, white, and blue, and you may also have noticed decorative red, white, and blue bunting hanging from windows at the Town Hall and other places in town. In case you are wondering what’s going on, the town is gearing up for a huge 250th anniversary celebration in July, featuring a parade, music, demonstrations, museum tours, games, barbecues and other refreshments, cake, and fireworks.

It was 250 years ago (that’s a quarter of a millennium!) that the Town of Plymouth, along with 12 other New Hampshire towns, received a charter from Governor Benning Wentworth, quickly settled, and incorporated in 1763, just after the end of the French and Indian War. According to Plymouth’s town website, Governor Wentworth apparently was interested in settling some of New Hampshire’s growing population into the newly opened territories along the river valleys (the Merrimack, Pemigewasset, and Connecticut), expanding the colony’s land holdings and strengthening New Hampshire’s western border against the rival colony of New York, and settlers were just as eager to move into the region to claim inexpensive land.

To quote from the website, “To this day, the 1760s still marks the decade of highest growth in New Hampshire history.” Following the end of the French and Indian War, the dangerous frontier area that would become Plymouth quickly saw an influx of settlers from around the Hollis area and Plymouth grew so fast that it received its charter and it was incorporated on the same day: July 15, 1763.

In recognition of this landmark quarter-millennium (also known as sestercentennial or a semiquincentennial) anniversary, Plymouth has been “Marking the Moment” all this year with various special activities. The highlight of this 250th anniversary celebration will be the big birthday bash on July 17-21.

To kick off the festivities, the town will hold a “Summerfest” event on Wednesday, July 17, on the lawn of Mary Lyon Hall at Plymouth State University from 5 to 8:30 p.m. The event is free, with activities ranging from a barbecue and dessert to games and a concert by Annie and the Orphans.

On Friday, July 19, festivities continue with an opening reception for the “Views of Plymouth” exhibit at Plymouth State’s Karl Drerup Gallery on Main Street, running from 4 to 6 p.m. That will be followed by a barn dance at the Plymouth Senior Center on Green Street, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The Plymouth Rotary Club will be holding a social event at the Common Man Inn beginning at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, July 20, the schedule includes a full day of special events, starting with a pancake breakfast on the lawn of the Plymouth Congregational Church.

“The Big Anniversary Parade” which will feature a variety of floats, marching bands, color guards, antique cars, bicycles, and animals, will start at 10 a.m., leaving from the Plymouth State Field House on Route 175A and heading around the town common on Main Street before finishing up at Rite Aid on South Main Street.

“The really interesting thing about this parade is that it will be formed in the order of antiquity,” says 250th Anniversary Chair Steve Rand. “The parade will start with the oldest group associated with Plymouth, the Native Americans, which will then be followed by newer groups and modern organizations. We’re expecting it to be a pretty huge and exciting parade.”

After the parade, several local, state, and county politicians will read statements and proclamations on the steps of the Town Hall at 11:30. Starting at noon, there will be fun fairs in three locations around Plymouth for attendees to enjoy, all featuring food, games, demonstrations, and exhibits. From noon to 5 p.m., Main Street and the Plymouth Common will have games and activities sponsored by the Bridge House, with food supplied by the Common Man.

Down along the river near the Plymouth Senior Center on Green Street, several Plymouth vendors whose businesses are located outside the Main Street area will be set up, while there will be live music at the Rotary Amphitheater and box lunches at the senior center. The Hobo Railroad will provide train rides every 45 minutes from noon to 2:45 p.m., traveling from the senior center to the Common Man Inn where there will be a stop for ice cream at Frosty Scoops.

At Miss Keniston’s Field on Thurlow Street, children will be able to participate in Colonial Field Games from noon to 5 p.m., and there will be live music, traditional craft demonstrations, and a barbecue by the Plymouth Lions Club. Vintage cars, trucks, and tractors will be on display and there will be agricultural and forestry displays as well.

Free shuttles will run between the downtown area and Keniston Field during the afternoon.

On Saturday evening, the Plymouth Congregational Church will offer cultural performances starting at 7:30 p.m., with music, poetry, and short dramas.

On Sunday, festivities start to wind down. At 10 a.m., there will be a guided historical walk of downtown Plymouth. From noon to 3 p.m., people will be able to take a self-guided museum walk to four downtown museums, including the Drerup Gallery on the first floor of the Draper and Maynard building, the D&M Exhibit on the 4th floor of the building, the Plymouth Historical Society Museum near the Plymouth Town Hall, and the new Museum of the White Mountains on Highland Street. The university also will allow free ice skating at the Plymouth State Ice Arena from 1 to 3 p.m., and from 1 to 4 p.m., there will be a free historic house tour. (Guide booklets are available at the Historical Society Museum.)

From 7 to 8 p.m., the Pemigewasset Choral Society will present a concert at the Riverfront Rotary Amphitheater; and at 8:15, the 250th Anniversary Committee will serve a Community Birthday Cake.

The 250th anniversary festivities conclude at 9 p.m. with a fireworks display at the Riverfront.

For more information, see www.plymouth250.org

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