By Laurie Atwater | After meeting with Jessie Steigerwald, Tanya Morrisett and Martha Wood of Lexington’s 300th Committee Opening Ceremony Team, I can say one thing: It’s going to be BIG! The planning for this event has been going on for over two years and things are really beginning to take shape.
What is a fitting celebration to honor Lexington’s 300 years between 1713 and 2013? That was the task assigned to the 300th Committee by the Selectmen over two years ago. Susan Rockwell bravely accepted the role of chairman of the 300th Committee which has multiplied and divided into various event committees to handle this ambitious task. “One thing we decided early on,” says Jessie Steigerwald events co-chair, “was that this was too big for just one weekend—a 9 month celebration for Lexington was a mandatory!” Both Martha Wood and Tanya Morrisett agree. “Because we really want it to be inclusive,” Tanya says, “We want to include everyone—to make people feel good about their town.” The official slogan for the event is: Celebrating 300 Years – We are Lexington.
The committee decided on four anchor events beginning with the Opening Ceremonies scheduled for September 22nd 2012. The Opening Ceremony Team plans to make this a truly exciting event that can hopefully accommodate all who want to participate. Enlisting the help of Florence DelSanto and LexMedia, they will host the ceremonies in two locations and simulcast the activities via a live feed between Cary Hall and Lexington High School! This very ambitious feat has never been tackled in Lexington. “It will be a first!” Steigerwald chuckles. “Florence says she loves live television!”
The 300th celebration will be chock-full of firsts. We are finding,” Jessie says, “that people are really excited about this and they want to get involved.” One of our biggest goals is bringing people together. Cross pollinating between groups is so important!” Through their travels around town soliciting interest and spreading the word, they have been surprised by how many people in different groups don’t know each other. “It’s been our great pleasure to get people together,” says Morrisett. “We’ve ended up with lots of great people and great ideas.”
The Opening Ceremony will be an opportunity the town to welcome all citizens to participate in the 300th activities and to showcase as Tanya says, “All that Lexington has to offer.”
“The event will not be a boring speech-driven event,” says Wood. It will be dynamic and represent all of the wonderful people who live in Lexington.”
The opening ceremony will be presented by Eric Michelson, Martha Wood, Tom Fenn and Barbara Manfredi and will feature performers young and old from the L.H. S. Wind Ensemble directed by Jeff Leonard, to Marilyn Abel’s Sing-along Chorus. Oh, and LexFUN will have lots of kids on had to sing Happy Birthday to the town (there may even be a cake). Expect a huge slideshow of Lexington’s favorite people, places and things, poetry, dance and song! “After it’s over we will have a procession from Cary Hall to the High School where we will join together for refreshments,” says Morrisett.
“The opening ceremony is like a big advertisement for the nine months of celebration to come,” adds Steigerwald. And prepare for lots of fun surprises. After refreshments, all are welcome to pour onto the high school field where a plane will be circling to take an all-town aerial photograph. How cool is that? “It was Dawn McKenna’s idea,” Jessie says. “We love it!”
How much can one day hold? Well, after the ceremony and the flyover there will be an old Thyme Country Fair and Picnic at Hastings Park! Fay Backert will be pulling it all together. With the theme Meet Me at the Fair, it’s sure to be a family friendly event complete with field games for the kids, two stages of music and dance and plenty of competition. Contests are in the planning stages but may include prize quilts, pies, pumpkins and technology. Nothing is sacred. One committee member suggested a category for failed attempts like her own not-jelly that never quite jelled! Everything Lexington Then & Now will guide the choices.
When the sun goes down, everyone is invited to put on their dancing shoes and join in a town wide dance. There will be something for everyone from colonial dances to ballroom/swing and rock ‘n roll. Multi-generational and lots of fun.
“One of our guiding principles throughout this planning has been civility,” says Steigerwald. “We want the events to be gracious, welcoming, mannerly and traditional in a way that could seem old-fashioned, but could serve as a model for Lexington going forward.”
Another signature event is the 300th Fashion Show to be performed on Saturday October 27, 2012 at 7PM. Chaired by Tanya Morrisett, Jessie Steigerwald and Kim Coburn, this creative presentation is designed as a musical revue of what Lexington wore through the ages. They are calling it Breeches, Bloomers & Bellbottoms Oh My! A Musical Fashion Revue and it is drawing lots of interest! So far they have recruited 40 Lexington teachers, all of the town department heads, Paul Ash, Chief Coor, Thelma Goldberg and many more surprise performers for this musical/drama/fashion show depicting life in Lexington. Set in Dick Kollen’s classroom, the performance will bring each era to life through song and dance with plenty of laughs. They still need plenty of volunteers to perform, hunt for costumes and accessories and sew says Tanya Morrisett! “It’s going to be lots of fun,” Steigerwald says. “We want to see nice dance numbers with lots of cute pink dresses and poodle skirts! This show has brought out the best in everybody!” In the lobby before and after the show a fundraiser called Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Fashion will a Wearable Art & Accessories Boutique.
Wow, can anything top this lineup! In the spring the 300th Incorporation Weekend is scheduled for March 16th and 17th.Betty Gau and Jill Hai are the team leaders for this event which will showcase a variety of different activities in Lexington. Currently planned: a town-wide show of student work at LHS, a History of Lexington Panel & Discussion at Clarke, a panel featuring Lexington Field & Garden Club Activities at Cary Library and a panel discussion of Technology in Lexington at LHS or Cary. This weekend will culminate in a 300th Year Multi-Cultural Community Dance at 6:30 p.m. LHS. This dance is designed to be a sharing experience between the different cultural communities in Lexington where Lexingtonians can learn the dances of their neighbors and make new friends.
The 300th will be celebrated throughout Patriot’s Day weekend and featured prominently in the 300th Anniversary Patriots’ Day Parade on Sunday April 14. It is rumored that Bev Kelley has been recruited for the important job of designing a special 300th float!
Finally, the 300th Anniversary Closing Events will be held on Memorial Day Weekend May 25 – 27, 2013. Plan to stay around Lexington for this very special weekend beginning with the annual Discovery Day celebration, an Old Time Baseball Double-Header at LHS on Sunday. On Monday start out at the Morning Parade and take part in the special Monument Dedication & Sealing of the Lexington 300th Time Capsule. Attend the formal Closing Ceremonies and enjoy an evening of music, celebration and a slide-show of images capturing highlights from the nine-month celebration.
“Our goal is to bring everyone together,” says Steigerwald. “At the end of this 9 month celebration we want everyone to know more people and feel a little more invested in the community.”
In the meantime, the committee would like to extend an invitation to everyone in Lexington to get involved. They need volunteers! Go to the brand new website designed by Harry Forsdick and edited by Cheryl Meadow for more information. The website will be a resource for volunteers and a dynamic source of information about Lexington. “It will continue to grow,” says Martha Wood. They plan to have regular blogging and Lexingtonians are encouraged to submit pictures and memories online and to check volunteer opportunities. They can also submit suggestions for the contents of Lexington’s time capsule. Through the generous donation of fifty-year Lexington resident Stan Abkowitz, Lexington will have a titanium time capsule to store treasures for the future. In the meantime, the committees will continue to develop their events and their “connection building” as we move quickly toward the launch of this grand celebration!