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OHD festivities offered fun for all as Belmont "Rocked the Block"

Alex and Zachary traveled from New Milton, Conn. with their mom, Nanette (Fournier) Pelletier, to take part in Old Home Day activities in Belmont last Saturday. Mom is a member of the BHS Class of ’83, and while she enjoyed seeing familiar faces and places, the boys were just as happy with their cherry and watermelon flavored Sno-Cones. For more photos, see this week's paper. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
August 10, 2011
BELMONT — Hundreds of people came out to "Rock the Block" all day and night last Saturday, as Belmont residents, old and new, celebrated the spirit and heritage of the "Best Town by a Dam Site" in an all day festival of fun, games, crafts, music and food. Let's not forget the food.

"It's been a busy day, but it's been great," said Selectman Ron Cormier midway through the festivities.

Beginning in the early morning, 65 runners took to the road for the 43rd Annual Old Home Day 10-Mile Road Race, each hoping to set a new record. The men's record holder is Scott Clark, who in 1987 ran the course with a time of 53:31, and Terry Hersh leads the pace with a women's record of 1:03:35, set in 1989.

While no records were broken this year, runners from all over New Hampshire and beyond who travel to Belmont for the sanctioned competition still put in impressive times for a tropical summer day when heat and humidity soared.

Topping the field for the men was Colton Ham, 17, of Webster (1:02:55), former Belmont resident Ernest Brake, 50, now from North Sutton (1:03:50), and BHS graduate Tim Gurshin, 19, of Canterbury (1:04:36).

For the women, 17-year old McKenzie Haney of Boscawen led the way (1:11:51), followed by Jennifer Latham, 43, of Yorktown (1:20:19) and Barbara Malm, 41, of Moultonborough (1:24:19).

Jovially bringing up the rear for this year's race was Roy Roberts of Belmont, who managed to catch his breath in time to take the microphone and comment on the parade later in the day. Roberts was proud to have finished dead last with a time of 2:16:16.

"Hey, at least I finished," he laughed as people offered horses and other means for him to negotiate the difficult course next year.

When the parade took to the streets at 1 p.m., crowds lined the sidewalks and porches to watch floats, performances by the BHS marching band and Franklin Recreation Cheerleaders, admire the antique cars, beautifully adorned horses, and honor a few of their own.

Besides police, fire and servicemen who received rounds of applause, Brad Lawrence joined the parade as the Belmont Rotary's Service Above Self award recipient for this year. Following Lawrence were Belmont's newest Good Citizen award co-winners, Class of 2011 graduating seniors Courtney Clary and Dan Powell, who rode in an open convertible and waved to fellow residents.

As the BHS marching band made its way to the judges' stand on the library lawn, though, they were silenced for the first time as tribute was paid to retiring BHS music director and Grand Marshall for this year's parade, Ray Craigie.

Roberts set aside his good-natured humor for a moment to sincerely thank Craigie on behalf of the town. Craigie, he said, has marched the streets of Belmont, leading the band for every parade in the town over more than 20 years as the school district's music director.

"He's formed the bands, and formed the children who perform in them every year. He's why they sound so good," Roberts said.

Craigie bowed and waved to the appreciative crowd before giving the signal to strike up the band and continue on with his final march through Belmont.

Food was prominent through the day, beginning with a pancake breakfast and followed by grilled foods, bake sales, lemonade stands, sno-cones, cotton candy, popcorn, and every other treat kids of any age would enjoy. In the meantime, games and music by New Horizons Band took over the bandstand behind the library, while fundraisers, booths of whimsical toys and lovely crafts prevailed around the town green.

Later that evening, Belmont Fire Department fired up their grills again and welcomed all to their now famous chicken barbecue. From there, the crowds made their way to Bryant Field behind the Middle School for more fun and the much anticipated annual fireworks display, which wrapped up the daylong celebration.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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