By Donna Rhodes
PLYMOUTH — Last week was filled with numerous activities as the Town of Plymouth prepared for their much anticipated semiquincentennial celebration.
SummerFest kicked off the festivities on the lawn of Mary Lyons Hall at Plymouth State University last Wednesday evening when members of both the town and university communities, both admittedly joined as one,were invited to a free barbecue dinner. The barbecue was courtesy of the university’s food service company Sodexo, and live entertainment by “Annie” and the Orphans helped create a most festive atmosphere. The night was topped off with SnoCones, popcorn, cotton candy and other goodies, all as a prelude of the fun yet to come.
Then, after taking one last deep breath on Thursday, the town then revved into high gear for three full days of celebration, starting on Friday evening with an art exhibit opening at the PSU Drerup Gallery, a reunion at the Common Man and an old fashioned barn dance at the Plymouth Senior Center.
Greeting residents on Friday were some familiar faces in most unfamiliar garb. Former State Sen.Deb Reynolds, Selectman Mike Conklin and many other residents stood outside the Senior Center, donned in both wigs and attire that would have typically been worn in the early days of Plymouth as the 250th birthday party for the town officially got underway.
“We’re here to reflect on not only the present, but the history of our great town as well. We’re ‘Marking the Moment,’” said Reynolds.
Inside, Dudley Laufman and his group of musicians called out the moves for a barn dance as young and old, experienced and inexperienced, moved lightheartedly around the room in a good old fashioned sense of fun.
As Laufman prepared the crowd with instructions for the “Paul Jones” contra dance, he also threw in a bit of history on (John) Paul Jones, an American Naval Hero of the 1700’s, and his legendary tie to Plymouth.
“It’s been said that Paul Jones had a flag made of petticoats from the women of Plymouth,” said Laufman, “but I’ve never had the chance to actually tell that story before tonight.”
With that in mind, the dance got underway, adding more reasons to “mark the moment.”
Dapperly dressed in his old-time gray top hat and suit, Selectman Conklin thoroughly enjoyed the first night of the celebration.
“I think it’s wonderful. We began thinking about this about a year or two ago. The committee has been working feverishly to put it all together over the past six to eight months, and here we are now,” said Conklin.
Leading that committee were Steve Rand, select board Chairman Val Scarborough, Patrice Scott,
Lisa Lundari and “countless others” who volunteered their time and talents, he said.
Rand said on Friday that he was already pleased with the “unbelievable blast off ” on Wednesday evening, coordinated by Sodexo Food Services, the Plymouth Rotary and the town’s 250th celebration committee.
“This whole (celebration) is a terrific thing for the community. It’s a chance to renew old acquaintances, make new ones, and gather together to be all we can be here in Plymouth,” said Rand.
To underline those sentiments, residents and students, past and present were also gathered at The Common Man in Plymouth Friday evening where the Plymouth Rotary facilitated a reunion for all.
Besides drinks and hors d’oeuvres, tables were covered with decades of yearbooks from Plymouth State University and Plymouth Regional High School. Both old and young flipped through familiar pages and talked about days gone by and the memories they all held of their school years in Plymouth.
“It’s been a great reunion for all. A bit of nostalgia for all the groups connected to Plymouth over the years,” said Rotary President Kathy Kearns.