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Founding Day Events Coming Up

Founding Day Events Coming Up

Ceremony Kicks Off Bicentennial

The town will observe the 200th anniversary of its founding with a Founding Day ceremony on Saturday, May 28, at 10 a.m. at the High Plains gazebo, with state and local dignitaries in attendance, and possibly the US delegation.  The ceremony is the opening act to a whole season of commemorative events throughout the summer.

The mayors and first selectmen of Milford, Derby, Bethany and Woodbridge are also invited to the ceremony, and will be personally welcomed by Orange First Selectman Jim Zeoli, said Bicentennial Committee Chairman Pat O’Sullivan.  By the end of April, it was still unclear who exactly would be in attendance.  But local Boy Scouts will lead in the Pledge of Allegiance and the “Star Spangled Banner” will be sung.  Local clergy will offer their blessings and prayers.  Following the brief ceremony, there will be refreshments.

Hang around for a bit afterward, since Orange will honor its best and brightest with the groundbreaking of a new brick walkway at the gazebo.  An honor guard, dressed in 19th century uniform, is scheduled to be present.  Commemorative bricks in honor of individuals and organizations can still be ordered through the Orange Chamber of Commerce.  These bricks will be installed sometime in the fall, said Chamber President Kathy Charbonneau.

As opposed to the existing brick walkway at the flagpole, where the bricks are dedicated to veterans, the bricks sold by the Chamber are in honor of anyone the donor chooses to honor.  They can pay tribute to a loved one, commemorate a milestone or an accomplishment.  So far, Charbonneau has received about 150 orders for bricks, and the sale will continue throughout the summer, she said.

As part of the groundbreaking, the Chamber has also planned to honor three prominent residents who passed away recently, namely Walter “Bud” Smith (Orange Hills Country Club), Walter Bespuda (co-founder of the Orange Country Fair) and George Chatzopoulos (Chip’s Restaurant).

“These three exceptional men epitomize the best qualities of true leaders and leave a legacy of making Orange a better place,” Charbonneau wrote in a press release.  “We invite residents to join us in recognizing their contributions to our town.”  Al Cawthra from the Lebanon Towne Militia will perform a special tribute to the honorees.

Art installation:  The Chamber also teamed up with two arts organizations, Art People and the Jamie Hulley Arts Foundation, to offer a free collaborative art project.  Right after the groundbreaking, at about 11 a.m., participants of any age are invited to create colorful seed mosaics and learn about the history of farming in Orange.  Once completed, the mosaics will be assembled into a large, beautiful, moveable display for the entire community to enjoy.

“The seed mosaics are a great way to bring the community together,” Charbonneau said.  And that dovetails beautifully with the Chamber’s mission to create networks between the sponsoring business owners, non-profits and the residents.

Memorial Day:  The day after the Founding Day ceremony, on Sunday, May 29, the town will observe its traditional Memorial Day festivities, with a ceremony at the gazebo at 10:30 a.m., followed by a parade.  To march in the parade, email  The Grand Marshal this year is Martin Kinstler, a Korean War veteran.

The Memorial Day parade is not to be confused with the Bicentennial parade on Saturday, June 25 at 2 p.m.  This event will start at Mary L Tracy School and move south on Orange Center Road towards High Plains Community Center, where people can enjoy a family picnic after the parade.  To be included in the parade lineup, contact Patrick O’Sullivan at

   Family picnic:  Sign up to be part of the family picnic on Saturday, June 25, between 4 and 8 p.m.  Long tables will be set up at the Fairgrounds.  Dinner will be provided by Mission Bbq., and dessert is from Julia’s Bakery and DipTop.  Lunchbox Band will provide entertainment.  There will be some children’s activities and circus performers, said Ginny Proestakes.

Tickets are $20, $10 for children ages 4-12; the deadline for ticket purchases is June 17.  Order forms are available on the town’s website,, the Town Hall, and at the Recreation Department at High Plains Community Center.  Residents, former residents and friends of Orange are welcome.

Historical Society:  The Orange Historical Society has restored and is taking care of three historic buildings, The Academy Museum at 605 Orange Center Road; the Stone Otis House at 615 Orange Center Road; and the Bryan-Andrew House at 131 Old Tavern Road.  The committed volunteers of this organization have lined up several events over the course of the summer, which will showcase each of these properties and allow people to learn about life in Orange in centuries past.

  • Hearth cooking – Have “dinner” at the Bryan-Andrew House the way a family in the mid-1800s would have. Historic Society volunteers will be offering a hearth-cooked meal for about nine participants at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 2, and again on Tuesday, June 7.  On the menu is a pot roast and vegetables.
    • Dinner will be served in two rooms, for up to 5 people each. Due to the pandemic the groups will be kept small, and groups of families or friends are encouraged to sign up together, so they can be seated together. The June 2 date is already fully booked.
    • To sign up for June 7, call (203) 795-3106.
  • Tour of the cemetery — On the weekend of July 9 and 10, the Orange Players will team up with the Historical Society to take a look at who’s who at the Orange Center Cemetery. Actors from the Orange Players will portray prominent figures and talk about their contributions.
  • Visiting Militia — On July 16 the Lebanon Towne Militia will be camping out at the Bryan-Andrew House from 9 to 3 p.m. In addition to portraying the life of Revolutionary soldiers, they will also portray the families that followed the soldiers around the country.

Descendants of the owners’ family are expected to visit from Kentucky.

  • Herb Garden — On July 23, the Historical Society will show off the Stone Otis House, where interested garden aficionados can visit the herb garden, which was recognized in 2000 with an Award of Excellence from the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut.
  • Crafters — A month later, on August 27, the Stone Otis House will again be the backdrop for craft demonstrations in the backyard, including that of a working blacksmith. The grounds are open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Phone exhibit – The Society also is working on a new, permanent exhibit of early telephone technology on the second floor of The Academy Building. Southern New England Telephone (S.N.E.T.) had the first commercial phone exchange in New Haven, and opened a branch in Orange.  The exhibit is slated to be open for tours starting on May 21, and includes photos of 1950s line equipment as well as a (now defunct) coin phone.

To learn more about other bicentennial events, go to the town website, and click on the “community” tab – there you will find the link to the Bicentennial Summer Celebration.

By Bettina Thiel – Orange Town News Correspondent

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