By Donna Rhodes
Photos by Donna Rhodes and Marcia Morris
PLYMOUTH — Music played and people cheered as Plymouth took to the streets last Saturday morning in celebration of their 250 years as a scenic, vibrant and cultural community nestled beneath the mountains, on the banks of the Baker and Pemigewasset Rivers.
After a morning that began with a community worship service and pancake breakfast, Main Street was lined with people who were eager to watch the “Marking the Moment” anniversary parade.
MC’ed by Tim Keefe and coordinated by Armand Girouard, 80 entries made their way through downtown in one of the largest parades the town has seen in recent times.
Leading the way were descendants of the Abenaki Indians, Plymouth’s first inhabitants. “The Old Man is Gone but We’re Still Here,” their sign proclaimed as they marched proudly along the parade route.
They were followed by the descendants of Colonel David Webster, whose family ties to the town date back to 1763.
Other early entries, each parading in chronological order, were the Plymouth Congregational Church, chartered in 1764, Olive Branch Mount Prospect Lodge from 1803, and the Young Ladies Library Association of Pease Public Library, which dates back to their establishment in 1873.
Antique cars were scattered throughout the entries according to the year they were manufactured and 91-year-young Irene Wilke was all smiles as she wavedfrom the 1928 roadster pick-up that was restored by the Mardin family of Holderness.
Watching all the excitement from the sidewalks were many residents who also wore fashions from earlier times in Plymouth.
At the conclusion of the parade, everyone gathered on the lawn of Town Hall, where the Revolutionary War cannon was fired and dignitaries assembled for the reading of official proclamations and commendations that marked Plymouth’s 250 years as a town.
Heading up the program was Val Scarborough, Chair of the board of selectmen. She was joined at the podium by Selectman Mike Conklin. Conklin, who donned a top hat and spoke out in the manner of a colonial town crier, read the many “Whereas” and “Wherefore’s” on a scrolled proclamation from the board. In it, they officially recognized the town’s “glorious past” and said that as history continues to be made in Plymouth, “the future looks equally bright.”
Among those who also took part in congratulating the town on its longevity was Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster.
Kuster spoke of her presentation on Plymouth that she read into the record on the floor of the U.S.House of Representatives recently, and concluded by saying, “I urge all Granite Staters to join us in honoring this special town.”
Grafton County Commissioner Martha Richards, who wore a vintage floral hat for the occasion, also presented a commendation from the commission and told the gathering, “I’m just so honored to be here with this great group of people on this special day.”
Other commendations were read by representatives of senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, who were unable to attend the ceremony.
PSU President Sara Jayne Steen spoke about the enduring ties between the university and the town. She said is very grateful for the longstanding partnership the two communities have shared since 1871, when the university, originally called Plymouth Normal School, was founded.
Finally, State Senator Jeanie Forrester, a former executive director for the Main Street program in Plymouth, reflected on the town’s rich history. She paid tribute to its past industries that helped establish the community, its beautiful location and the many famous people who have been welcomed to Plymouth over the years, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, President Franklin Pierce, Daniel Webster and Babe Ruth.
“Whether you were born here or got here as quickly as you could, Plymouth is a beautiful place you can call home, and always feel at home,” Forrester said.
She also presented Scarborough with an official New Hampshire flag that was flown over the State Capital in honor of Plymouth’s 250th anniversary.
Main Street itself was soon turned into a fun playground for the remainder of the afternoon where children enjoyed a bouncy house, a water balloon catapult and even a miniature golf course on the common.
The Senior Center took everyone on a nostalgic trip back in time when it resumed its original role as a train station for the day. Besides their “Whistle Stop” food shop, passengers lined up for a short train ride aboard the Pemigewasset Valley Local that took them to Frosty Scoops at the Common Man where they could get ice cream.
Across Green Street, bands also performed on the riverfront at the Rotary Ampitheater throughout the day.
At Miss Kenniston’s Field, a brief shuttle ride away, there were colonial games like marbles, hoop rolling and some gunny sack races for all to enjoy. Antique cars, horses, and rides aboard Plymouth’s and Sandwich’s antique fire trucks were other popular attractions.
Those who visited the field were also able to tour a reproduction of a colonial herb and flower garden. The Heirloom Garden was filled with hops, flax, barley and other plants that were typically found in backyards during Plymouth’s early days.
As stated earlier on Saturday, Scarborough’s gratitude for the celebration certainly held true all weekend long.
“Thank you all for turning out for our 250th birthday,” she told the crowd.