When I think about writing about my hometown, it is difficult for me to know how to begin. I love being part of a smaller community & having a close-knit multi-generational family all within my neighborhood. Cousins, aunts & uncles live within hundreds of yards of me, & we are fortunate to have many memories of family gatherings for every possible occasion. Particularly close with my classmate & cousin (Melanie) & my younger sister (Heidi), we spent much of our childhood learning & playing together.
When the town of Fitzwilliam celebrated its 225th anniversary, the three of us played leading roles in a skit about our town’s founders. We were the last generation of Fitzwilliam preschoolers who were educated in the town hall in the early 80’s & as elementary school students,we performed our spring & holiday concerts there. Our love of music continued into junior high as we created roller skating & dance routines, like one MRHS favorite to C&C Music Factory. As a teen, I remember being contracted by Good Morning America (5/11/92) to aim a spotlight they had setup in the hall’s bell tower when they did their New England tour & thinking about what an amazing place in which I live. I realized at that point how much my family did in the community, both in terms of their businesses & with their volunteerism.
While in college, I became president of the board working with the historic Patch Place at Rhododendron State Park, before the snowstorm destroyed the barn. I was also appointed a commissioner by the selectmen for a four year term on the Southwest Regional Planning Commission. The amount of organizations in town for whom I volunteered for summers, special events & other occasions/services include our recreation program, library, historical society, garden club, sewing circle, after school program, fire departments, etc. I love the kinship of a smaller community & how, if properly nurtured, can create a stronger connection than business networks or government organizing could ever produce. To see multiple grassroots barn & house risings, or the neighborly response to a temporal hardship like a great ice storm, is awe-inspiring & heartwarming.
I reflect often on how much more change my parents & grandparents see; my paternal grandmother turns 90 two weeks after the town anniversary, and has always lived in town. I have helped her organize photos from several generations that have lived in our same home, attending our same school. I can only imagine my family's community involvement from what I read in town histories. I hear from my family’s experience the important roles of the granite quarries, trains, Finnish dancehalls & other activities from times past. I love the fact that both my grandparents are native of this beautiful town & enjoy looking at many of their pictures from when they lived in the Fitzwilliam Depot in the 1940’s.
Another picture shows the 50th anniversary of Dr. Emerson’s practice as a doctor for this region, one of our most prominent citizens & our community's grandest moments.
It is with great excitement that this July, on the eve of my town’s birthday celebration (& coincidentally Mom’s birthday too), I shall be starting the weekend’s party with a Common Kick-Off Dance, right on the town common. Starting with an Ed's Crossroads Pizza Party at 5:30PM, (next to the fountain dedicated to one of my local heroes, Jane Fiske), families will gather & dance to music from each decade. spanning generations. There will be educational music from 6-8PM & general dance music thereafter. During the first part, multiple guests from the community will be instructing in various styles of dance. There will also be a dessert pot luck, with a good. ol' fashioned taste testing contest!
There will be many great activities all that weekend, like a parade, town barbecue & fireworks, but some of the activities start sooner. At the end of next month (4/28/12),there is an auction at the Fitzwilliam VFW to raise money. Also, memento items like collector mugs, hats, tee shirts & license plates are available, with a nice logo designed by our neighbor Coni Porter. I encourage everyone to make plans early, especially if you hope to stay at one of the local bed & breakfasts for which our town is famous. Be sure to find out when we will be doing the "up above" photos of the townspeople on the common from my Dad's firetruck.
ShareJust a little more than four months until I get to play one of the most unique & meaningful gigs & I am psyched! This “Emerson Reunion”* will be the first event of its type & a great opportunity for old friends & distant family members to reconnect, while instilling in our youngest generation a love for all the great things that make our town so incredibly special…
"It really is a moment in time that will never happen again so we need to acknowledge it and give it respect. Our forefathers were tough, as we are now, so let’s make a fun event that celebrates all of us – past & present!"
Bonnie Jones - Co Chair of 250th Committee (3/23/12)
PRESS RELEASE by Coni Porter
Fitzwilliam 250th Common Kick Off!!
Friday, July 27th from 5:30 - 10:00
A spectacular beginning to Fitzwilliam's anniversary weekend - bring your family, your appetite, and your dancing shoes!!
• Food and Drink A free piece of pizza and drink await the lucky first 250 residents who have one of the "250 Anniversary" printed tickets in their hands. Look for them at town-wide locations over the next 3 months. Note: Tickets are not mandatory for attendance - everyone is invited to bring a picnic dinner and blanket.
• Potluck Dessert Contest Calling all pastry and dessert chefs (and absolutely everyone else) - bring your biggest, best, and most delectable desserts to put on display, be judged, and then eaten by everyone. There is nothing like a competition to bring out the best from the kitchen. All in good fun "winning certificates" will be awarded in different categories by our resident food officiants and the whole town will enjoy the sweets.
• Dancing thru Time Our own CJ the DJ will spin us back through time, playing the "best of the best" songs from 2012 backwards into the days of pre-revolutionary 1762, the year of our "birth". Come move to the music of your favorite tunes, learn little-known facts about Fitzwilliam's history, and even dance the Polka, Charleston, and Jitterbug! Quick dance demonstrations will be shown for the older dance steps, and everyone will be encouraged to give them a try.
• Past Memories and Future Dreams Look for an indoor environment... sitting outdoors. An antique desk, chair, and lamp will transport you to another era as you contribute to the Fitzwilliam 250th Anniversary Book. We will, all, be co- authors together - recording our shared lives here and now, 250 years after the first Fitzwilliam settlers dreamed of what the future would hold for them.
• Common Lights The Fitzwilliam Common will be a spectacle to behold, something you won't see for another 250 years.