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Local officials kick off Bicentennial celebration

Geoff Ruggles, Dee Chitty, John O’Brien, Rae Mellow-Andrews and Larry Routhier dress in the style similar to those who lived in Gilford long ago. (Jeff Ferland) (click for larger version)
June 20, 2012
Residents, town officials and prized animals celebrated the official Gilford Bicentennial Saturday, June 16 with a Parade and Opening Ceremonies, inviting residents to enjoy bicentennial events planed for the rest of the year.

"We thank those who came before us and laid the foundation for what Gilford is today," said Selectmen Kevin Hayes during the presentation at the Village Bandstand.

Joining in the parade celebration were Selectmen Hayes and John O'Brien, Town Administrator Scott Dunn, Financial Director and appointed Town Crier Geoff Ruggles, Members of the Gilford Bicentennial Committee, Police and Fire Department Color Guards, Rick and Connie Moses of the Gilford Rotary, the Salanitros (along with their Oxen from Ox-K Farm), members of the Lakes Region Riding Academy and local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

After the parade, everyone gathered at the field around the Village Bandstand, where Hayes presented Police Chief Kevin Keenan with a US flag flown over the US Capitol Building, given to the town by U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte. The Police Color Guard raised the flag at the newly landscaped Rotary Garden by Belknap Landscaping Company, next to the Bandstand, while the Fire Department Color Guard raised the Bicentennial Flag across the street at the Thompson-Ames Historical Society Meeting House.

Musical entertainment included pieces by the Gilford Community Band, Gilford Community Church and Methodist Church Choirs, the "Gilford Bicentennial Song" written and preformed by Jane Ellie and "America the Beautiful," sung by Samantha Drouin.

Town Moderator Sandy McGonagle said that first settlers of Gilford would be proud of residents now for the care and respect they have for the historic landmarks they built long ago, like the Row House, Meeting House and Village Store. She went on to say they would be happy to see the many town amenities in the Village, such as the new Library, Community Church and Youth Center.

"They would recognize so many things they created," said McGonagle, "and be happy to know they were cared and respected for."

According to McGonagle, these accomplishments show that Gilford residents now have held onto their valued past.

Hayes thanked the members of the Bicentennial Committee for their planning, dedication to the celebration and work over the past year.

He also took the opportunity to think back to the first days of Gilford in June 1812, where cows would be grassing in the village field and most of Gilford would be still forest.

According to Hayes, residents do not always think about how lucky they are to live in the Gilford Community today, and to "thank those who came before us."

Hayes also encouraged everyone to take part in the upcoming Bicentennial events.

"Unlike Old Home Day, there is only one Bicentennial," said Hayes.

They ended the day's celebrations with a three-volley salute by the Police Department Color Guard and a cake baked and donated by Bill and Sally Bickford.

Upcoming Bicentennial events include Bicentennial Beach and Boat Parade Day at the Gilford Town Beach Saturday, June 23 with Children's Float Parade at 10 a.m., canoe and kayak race at 11 a.m., barbecue and obstacle course at noon and boat parade at 3 p.m. Registration forms are available at Parks and Rec, Public Works and Public Library.

For a comlete list of Bicentennial events, visit the town

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