New Year celebration rings in Auto Road Sesquicentennial



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Howie Wemyss, manager of Great Glen Trails, gives a toast to the large crowd assembled for the kick-off of the 150th anniversary of the Mt. Washington Auto Road. Matilda Brown. (click for larger version)
January 05, 2011
PINKHAM NOTCH — The Mt. Washington Auto Road rung in the start of its 150th year on Friday night, from 5-7 p.m. with free hors d'oeurvres, champagne, and a fireworks display.

Howie Wemyss, the manager at Great Glen Trails, said that this was the first year that there had ever been a New Year's celebration at Great Glen. He said the only reason for it was the 150th anniversary of the Auto Road and added that he did not think there would be one next year.

The Auto Road was opened on Aug.8, 1861, and the original sign is on display at the lodge at Great Glen, as well as pictures of the area in its previous forms (which were burned down).

Many more people showed up for the New Year's celebration than Wemyss had anticipated and the downstairs had to be opened up and fitted with folding chairs to accommodate the masses. Wemyss said that the reception was "overwhelming," with locals and visitors alike gathering to see the fireworks.

The New Year's celebration was just a kick-off to the sesquicentennial year, with the big events planned for the summer. Wemyss said the main reason for the event was to raise awareness of the events that are going on this summer. The events are not yet on the website, www.greatglentrails.com, but will be soon.

People from all over were in attendance, with local faces mingling among people from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and beyond.

Nancy and Dale Cordy came up from Rhode Island. Nancy said that they had been up this way before and that they have a home in North Conway. She said the event sounded interesting and that she and her husband may come back in the summer.

Mario Marchio, from Cambridge, Mass., said that it was his and his wife's first time in the North Country as well as their first time skiing. They decided to come to Great Glen for the fireworks.

Sue Wilcox, who has as a second home in Intervale — originally from Georgetown, Mass. — said that the fireworks inspired her decision to attend as well.

Richard and Priscilla Holt, both from Coventry, Rhode Island, said that they have been coming up for many years to cross-country ski and added that they would definitely be back for the events in the summer. They were there with Bob and Jane Hadley, also from Coventry, who said that they had been coming up this way for quite some time as well.

Cecilia Bennett and her husband, John Lambert, said that it was their first time at Great Glen and that they had only learned about the event one hour prior. The pair comes from Cambridge, Mass. and they have visited Ossippe, Wolfeboro, and North Conway before. They said that they like coming up to the mountains and getting to enjoy the clean air and the slower pace. The pair added that they would both be in New Hampshire this summer.

After ringing in the New Year at the base of the Auto Road, visitors were assured of the many events planned for this summer, celebrating 150 years of climbing Mount Washington in their vehicles (be sure to get a sticker).

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