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Thornton looks back on its history during Old Home Day

Three-year-old Hyde from Waterville Valley had a lot of fun at the Thornton Old Home Day celebration last weekend, where she not only got a fun balloon creation, but was very excited to see a beehive from Backyard Beekeepers. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
September 25, 2013
THORNTON — It was a perfect day for an outdoor celebration, and residents of Thornton gathered on the open fields of Benton's Sugar Shack Campground last Saturday to enjoy their newly revived Old Home Day.

Sponsored by the Thornton Historical Society, the day was a chance for residents to gather together for food, games and lots of down home country fun.

"We stopped having Old Home Day quite awhile ago and ten years ago we decided it was time to bring it back," said society president Gloria Kimball. "This year we're acknowledging the town's 250th anniversary."

While it was 250 years ago when the land comprising the Town of Thornton was first granted, its actual incorporation as a town did not take place until eight years later.

"I guess there just weren't enough people actually living here back then to call it a real town. In 2021, we'll celebrate again when Thornton was officially incorporated," said Kimball.

Regardless of the technicality, the Grafton County Commissioners still wanted to applaud the residents of Thornton on their longevity and Commissioner Martha Richardson dropped in to congratulate the town.

"Councilor Ray Burton wanted to come here today, but he was busy, so I was given the honor of presenting the town with a commendation from the Grafton County Commission," said Richardson.

In closing, the commendation read, "Thornton's setting at the base of the White Mountains and the Mad River lends itself to outdoor activities, and its beautiful vistas toward the mountains and old farmsteads is appreciated by all as one enjoys the beautiful views. We, the Grafton County Commission, applaud you on your first 250 years and offer our congratulations and continued success into the next 250 years."

Thornton was one of 11 towns in Grafton County to reach such a milestone in 2013.

A small parade was one of many highlights in the day and was led off by Boy Scout Troop 18, the eighth oldest troop in the state's entire Daniel Webster Council.

The troop played another role in the day when they not only set up camp on the grounds but showed their skills in many areas of scouting. One particular skill that caught everyone's attention was the smell of turkey roasting in their homemade oven, built from cardboard and aluminum foil. They also prepared Dutch ovens filled with baked beans and goulash that all were invited to sample throughout the afternoon.

The Campton-Thornton Fire Department gave a special presentation at noon when they spotlighted their skills as well. Using a car accident as a scenario, crowds gathered to watch the firefighters cut their way into the vehicle to rescue the demonstration dummies trapped inside. After using their cutting tools and other rescue equipment, medical procedures to safely transport accident victims were also explained

Besides the spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, live music provided another great backdrop to this year's event. Starting off the celebration were the men and women of the 12th N.H. Regiment Serenade Band. Dressed in uniforms of the Civil War era they entertained throughout the morning until the classic country and rock music of the Cable Guys took over for the remainder of the day.

Along the shore of a nearby pond, families also had the opportunity to spend some quiet time fishing.

"We had the pond stocked with 100 brook trout and people of all ages are welcomed to come and try their luck," said Ralph Ripley.

For those who didn't have a fishing pole, he and other members of the Historical Society were happy to lend people a pole and even provided bait for the hooks. Prizes and ribbons were awarded in several age categories.

Friendly sled dogs, bee keepers and other local specialty groups also educated the public on the services they offer.

"Bees, bees, I really like the bees," said young Hyde of Waterville as she peered into a display hive from Backwards Beekeepers.

Mo the Clown handed out his clever balloon creations and, in addition, there was face painting, a dunking booth, sand art, a silent auction, raffles, and food from the grill that helped make the day extra fun for people of all ages.

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