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Skies open up for 'Life on the Lake'

The Old Home Day Committee gets nice and cozy under an umbrella during a rain shower. Lauren Tiner. (click for larger version)
September 02, 2009
It may have been dreary outside, but that didn't stop the town of Gilford from coming out last weekend, especially after the Old Home Day Committee spent their last six months planning out the town's biggest event of the year, where they found no choice but to go on with "Life on the Lake" despite the cool air, the torrential downpour, and the windy 20 mph weather conditions that the committee said they haven't faced for a decade or so.

Saturday marked Gilford's 90th annual Old Home Day in more than one way. Last weekend's events ran for two consecutive days as a result of the weather, a first in Home Day history for Gilford. Director of Parks and Recreation Herb Greene said he has only been with the committee for four years, but veteran members told Greene they have never before experienced such bad weather on Gilford's special day.

It was clear residents would stick it out as families huddled under brightly colored rain coats with big, floppy hoods as they enjoyed the parade in a sprinkle of rain and then ventured over to other venues during the downpours.

Ethie Ritson, a member of the Old Home Day Committee for 24 years, said the prior Home Day Committee she once participated in was faced with the aftermath of a hurricane one year, but that was the last year, until now, that she found herself in a similar situation.

"Other than that we have been fortunate," she said Saturday. "Tomorrow night we will hold the band concert and fireworks. We will run everything except the dance. We'll also have the same vendors tomorrow. We left it up to the vendors whether they wanted to stay or not."

Ritson said the committee put so much time and effort into the event that they couldn't just watch it fall flat on its face because of rain.

"This is where people get together. We can't stop the event. We have planned for Old Home Day since March and we are all volunteers," said Ritson, who stressed that a lot of time and money from the town goes into the event to ensure that it is a memorable experience. "People have been very loyal. There are usually more people though."

Ritson attributed the locals' love for Old Home Day to the fact that summer days are numbered, and the event works as a summer wrap up of sorts before residents start working hard again in the cooler fall season.

Greene announced mid-day that the second half of Old Home Day would be held on Sunday at 6 p.m., including the field-events, the egg-toss, and the pie-eating contest, because the weather conditions and the dark clouds showed no signs of improvement.

On day two of Gilford Old Home Day it unexpectedly poured again, but the rain let up just in time for the fireworks display that the town would have lost $12,000 on otherwise, said Greene. Children were also able to participate in the egg toss out on the field, and the Community Band was able to perform as well.

Though a good-sized crowd of residents left Old Home Day by the late afternoon on the first day, many had turned out for the parade in the morning. Even so, Greene said that the parade entry numbers were not as high either, due to the fact that certain departments and individuals had to pull out their floats and costumes under such conditions.

Other than the poor conditions, members of the Old Home Day committee said a good number of residents showed their loyalty to Gilford on both rainy days.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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