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Sun shines as parade returns to Alton Old Home Day celebration

ABA Carnival a success in its first year

THE PMHS ROBOTICS TEAM reloads a giant red ball on one of their old ‘bots as part of a demonstration at Alton’s Old Home Day celebration on Saturday. Weston Sager. (click for larger version)
August 18, 2010
ALTON — Drums, sirens and organ music filled the town of Alton from Main Street to the Bay last Saturday afternoon.

They were sounds not heard in the area for more than 15 years: the sounds of a parade procession.

"This is magnificent," said Roger Sample, chairman of the Alton Parade Committee. "People have really come together in this town."

Some 48 entrants participated in the parade, which included handshaking politicians, plodding antique automobiles, and unwieldy floats made of plastic, cardboard and hay.

Judy Fry, Alton Citizen of the Year, led the procession in her Model T Ford. Highlights included a towering hay sculpture and rock band courtesy of Alton Home and Lumber, a black steam engine replica built by Building Maintenance Services and a trio of Shriner mini-cars.

But it was no easy task organizing the parade. In bringing back the old tradition, the parade committee had little time to prepare.

"We put our noses to the grindstone and just got it done," said Alton Business Association Chairman Chris Racine.

The lengthy parade route, which measured over a mile long, was a concern heading in. But despite the distance and the midday heat, the parade's participants made the journey without much trouble.

"[The route]'s downhill," assured Racine.

The parade was not the only new sight on Alton Old Home Day. An Alton Business Association-sponsored carnival at B&M Railroad Park was the other major addition.

Happy children and adults participated in carnival games such as the ring toss, dunking booth, bounce house and basketball-shooting contest.

But perhaps no one there was happier than Fry, who was named Alton Citizen of the Year in part because of her role in revitalizing B&M Railroad Park.

It was the first year in which the park was used for Alton Old Home Day festivities.

"It draws attention to the park that's right here in the village," said Fry. "It's nice to have a downtown."

Judging by the packs of people that filtered in and out of the carnival throughout the morning and afternoon, it is likely the festivities will return next year.

In addition to the carnival's games and vendors, performances by the Alton Dance Academy and the Prospect Mountain High School Robotics team entertained those who visited the park.

Of course, Alton Old Home Day brought back its long-standing traditions for yet another year.

The annual 5K Road Race kicked off the day's activities, with participants competing from all over New England and beyond. For more information about the race, please refer to the sports section, starting on page B1.

The Alton Bay Bandstand was swarming with people touring the antique boat show. The boat show saw record participation this year, with at least 29 vintage boats, ranging from a sleek one-seater to comparatively large multi-passenger "woodies," on display at the Alton docks.

Visitors to the boat show voted for which boat they liked best. Gift certificates were awarded to the boats that garnered the most votes.

"It's time we give back to the people who donate money to us," said Ken Sandhage, a volunteer with the New Hampshire Boat Museum.

Nearby, the Alton Craft Fair set up many stalls selling jewelry, quilts, dried flower arrangements, photographs, books, clothing and fudge.

A leatherworking booth was also on display, providing families with an opportunity to craft a custom memento using leather strips, metal stamps and a rubber mallet.

Pleasant temperatures and ample sunlight provided the perfect setting for meandering through the craft fair's booths. The excellent weather persisted throughout the day.

Back towards Alton proper, the Alton Fire Department hosted its annual chicken barbeque to raise money for safety equipment.

Half chickens, 28 to a rack, roasted over a pit of coals on one side of the fire department's backyard, filling the air with a smoky aroma.

The meal was a resounding success, according to Alton Fire Chief Scott Williams, who said that more than 180 meals were sold at the dinner.

Each meal included half a chicken, corn on the cob, baked potato, cranberry sauce, ice cream and choice of coffee or lemonade.

But the recipe for the special chicken marinade was not disclosed. It is a closely-guarded Alton Fire Department secret that dates all the way back to the 1960s.

All of the proceeds from the dinner were donated to the Alton Firemen's Association. Money from prior fundraisers has gone towards construction projects and the restoration of old firefighting equipment.

"Our association does a lot of good to the community," said Williams.

Other daytime activities included a carwash, 50/50 raffle, scavenger hunt, family Bingo and Community Church-sponsored yard sale.

The day's festivities came to a close with a rock-and-roll concert performed by the "Echo Tones" and fireworks shot off from a barge in Alton Bay.

Alton Parks and Recreation and the Alton Business Association were the main sponsors for Alton Old Home Day.

The day's theme was "Pay It Forward: Random Acts of Kindness."

Weston Sager can be reached at 569-3126 or wsager@salmonpress.com

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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