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Bicentennial Committee already planning a big bash

February 03, 2011
June 16, 2012 will mark the Town of Gilford's 200th anniversary with a ceremonial opening as the kick off to dozens of historical and celebratory activities to honor the day that Gilford was officially established.

Bicentennial Committee volunteers are currently prepping and planning for the upcoming town celebration next year, which will honor the past and present from 1812-2012.

While the big day will land on June 16, when Gilford was officially established as a town 200 years ago, the committee is in the midst of planning activities for the entire year.

"We are trying to plan activities all 2012 long on the weekends for the bicentennial celebration," said Dee Chitty, secretary of the committee.

The committee is currently made up of members of the community, town employees, a selectman representative, and members of Thompson-Ames Historical Society. Chitty said more volunteers are needed to make sure the bicentennial celebration goes out with a big cannon bang.

While different members are working on different projects, planning events and marking them on next year's calendar, the committee also faces the challenge of raising funds.

Now that a request for $3,000 in funds has been cut from the town budget specifically for the celebration, the committee must find a way to raise that anticipated money. A petitioned warrant article has been submitted for the 2011 town ballot and will request $3,000 from taxpayers.

The committee also plans to come up with alternative fundraisers.

For the opening ceremony in June 2012, committee members plan to invite the Board of Selectmen and Gov. John Lynch to help kick off festivities and witness the ringing of the bell at the historical meeting house in town.

Other activities for 2012 will include a cemetery walk in July and September run by the Cemetery Trustees, a pot luck social at the church, a tea party, a woodsmen competition, and a time period appropriate fashion show.

Businesses are also joining the fun early on, including Gunstock, which plans to host a Bicentennial Ball on Nov. 12, 2012, in conjunction with the Gilford Historical Society.

Every July the Historical Society also sponsors and invites a historical band to Gilford, and hopes to invite the 12th Regiment Band for July of 2012.

The society has also talked about sponsoring a visit from Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Pierce during the open ceremony or tea party. Historical Society representatives Kathy Lacroix and Diane Mitton are brainstorming ways to find period reenactors of the Civil or Revolutionary War to perform at discounted prices.

The School District also plans to take part. Committee member and School Board member Rae Mello-Andrews spoke with the Gilford High School principal, hoping to get GHS students and Gilford Middle School students involved with the town celebration.

While she suggested GHS students do a skit, Principal Ken Wiswell suggested that the students film a video, which covers the span of Gilford over the past 200 years.

"It would give people something to purchase and have in their hands," said Mello-Andrews, who added that proceeds would also be a plus.

Since Gilford Middle School students had so much fun with their last play, she suggested that GMS could perform a skit. The committee is also thinking of ways to involve Gilford Elementary Students.

Patriotic and festive decorations around the holidays and into the next summer will also mark the beginning and end of 2012 celebrations in Gilford, another opportunity to involve students and community members in their town's 200th birthday bash.

Jane Ellis of Gilford made a surprise visit to the committee meeting last Tuesday and played an acoustic song for members, a song that's devoted to the town and could be the theme song to 2012 celebrations.

While a petitioned warrant article and other fundraising ideas are in the mix, Bicentennial Committee members are also looking for grant opportunities to help kick of plans.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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