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Bicentennial Plans Take Shape

Bicentennial Plans Take Shape

Celebration Will Stretch Throughout the Summer Of ‘22

The year 2022 promises to be a very special year for the town, as it marks its 200th birthday, its bicentennial.  A coordinating committee chaired by former long-time Town Clerk Pat O’Sullivan has started its work with a meeting on January 6, a hybrid meeting, with some attending in person at the High Plains Community Center Café, others calling in via Zoom, due to the pandemic.

People are ready to celebrate their town, and there are so many ideas up in the air, that the committee’s first decision was to make it a Bicentennial Summer, rather than just a day or two weeks of events.  The kickoff will be a Founding Day Ceremony, including an ecumenical service, on Saturday, May 28, at the gazebo.

“Fifty years ago, when we celebrated the sesquicentennial (150th), a lot of women stayed home while their kids were going to school, and it was a week-long affair,” remembered Historical Society President Ginny Reinhard.  But times have changed, and though the planning group started with the notion of a two-week celebration, they soon figured out that it was difficult to cram everything into that time, especially during the week.

The calendar of events will range from the Memorial Day weekend all the way to the Orange Country Fair.  It will include the traditional highlights of an Orange summer, such as the Memorial Day parade and the Firemen’s Carnival, but also include special events.  As in previous years, the Orange Town News and its publisher, Rocky Salperto, will be sponsoring a special celebration for the Independence Day weekend, with a concert and patriotic fireworks display, possibly on Sunday, July 3rd.

Other events being planned are:

  • Restaurant Week (May 28 to June 30);
  • Garden Club Flower Show (Sunday, June 5);
  • A Mud Run (Saturday, June 18);
  • A parade and family dinner (Sunday, June 26);
  • Golf tournament at Race Brook Country Club (Monday, June 27);
  • A time capsule (Saturday, September 10); and
  • A Homecoming Weekend as part of the Orange Country Fair (September 17 and 18).

Kellie Martino and Mary Shaw are organizing a scavenger hunt and Mitch Goldblatt is heading up a commemorative committee.

Marianne Miller of the Orange Players and Ginny Reinhard are looking for volunteer actors to “resurrect” significant people buried at the Orange Center Cemetery.  The event is slated to take place at the Cemetery.  No date has been set yet.

The Orange Chamber of Commerce is selling Bicentennial Bricks as a fundraiser for the business community.  The bricks will be installed around the gazebo.  For details, go to the Chamber website, https://orangectchamber.com/.

The Historical Society is selling a commemorative medallion, showing the historic and contemporary town seals, for $25 each.  To order, go to its website at www.orangehistory.org.

Needless to say, the Historical Society will be busy offering different events to entertain and educate today’s residents — young and old — about what life looked like way back when.  Ranging from a Revolutionary War re-enactment to stone-hearth cooking at the Bryan Andrew House; taking in a historic school-room experience, to a blacksmithing demonstration, there will be plenty to choose from.

One of the highlights this year will be an exhibit of historic phones in the Academy Building’s second floor.  It will commemorate the history of Southern New England Telephone, which was headquartered in Orange back in the 1930s.

The next meeting of the Bicentennial committee is planned for Thursday, January 20.  To learn more about the details, contact Ann Denny in the First Selectman’s office.

Serving on the committee in addition to O’Sullivan, Reinhard, and Denny are Selectmen Mitch Goldblatt, Connor Deane and Judy Williams; Marianne Miller, Orange clergy; Lynn Plaskowitz, Polly Demirjian, Santo Galatioto, Raymond LaPlane, Virginia Proestakes, Mary Shaw and Paul Tarbox.

By Bettina Thiel, Orange Town News Correspondent

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