The show must go on: Crowds brave the heat for town celebration

Plainville residents weren’t about to let a little heat get in the way of our summer fun. Bus tours and other activities had to be canceled due to the extreme heat this weekend, but the show went on at the town’s 150th anniversary celebration. Above, five-year-old Zoey Castonguay enjoys the makeshift water park at Norton Park on Sunday, thanks to the Plainville Fire Department. (Photo by Janelle Morelli)

By SHERIDAN ROY

STAFF WRITER

The town of Plainville celebrated its 150th anniversary on Saturday, June 19 and Sunday, June 20 despite weather warnings for extreme heat. The planning committee made some adjustments, including postponing the historic bus tour on Saturday, and providing free pool passes, an inflatable water slide, and mist machines for the Sunday picnic.

The two-day event kicked off Saturday morning at 10 a.m. sharp with local churches ringing their bells. Historically in New England, church bells have been rung on a variety of ceremonial occasions. Church bells were used to call the community together in the days before mass communication became available.

The Connecticut General Assembly approved Plainville’s act of incorporation on July 16, 1869, and six days later, residents celebrated with festivities, including its very first parade which stepped off at 10 a.m. sharp. Our Lady of Mercy Church, Church of Our Savior Episcopal and the Congregational Church participated in the bell-ringing ceremony.

Plainville police officer Jessica Martins, left, learns about Plainville’s rich history of public service from retired Plainville Fire Chief David Laurie at a display set up for the town’s 150th anniversary celebration at Norton Park last Sunday. (Photo by Janelle Morelli)

Though the historic bus tour was postponed, residents made their way to the air-conditioned Plainville Historic Society Saturday morning and afternoon to view historic displays.

“In lieu of the bus tour, we hope to keep people busy with different types of displays in the historic society,” said one member of the 150th anniversary planning committee, Rachel St. Onge. “We have a lot of informational boards, and many historic items—many of which were donated by residents especially for this event.”

Staff member at the historic society, Gertrude LaCombe, showed visitors around the building, sharing stories and answering questions. There were “then and now” displays, old collections, a scrapbook of homes from the 1800s that still stand today, a copy of the town’s first grand list, and much more.

“This display is going to be here all summer,” said historic society volunteer Susan Nestor. “We encourage anyone to come and see what we have here. You’ll have a great time looking at all the historic items from our town.”

On Sunday, the 150th anniversary committee welcomed all to a family picnic at Norton Park. Just as they did on Saturday, locals braved the upper-90-degree heat to join in the festivities. It was a true clash of the new and the old with popular food trucks, inflatables and musical entertainment, right alongside historic displays and historic games for children.

Plainville resident Ana Cobey looks through a photo album of World War II pictures at the Plainville Historical Society last Saturday. (Photo by Janelle Morelli)

The 150th anniversary committee has postponed the historic bus tour for a date in the fall. Interested participants will see sites including the old site of Plainville Manufacturing (currently the site of 50 West), the former E. N. Pierce Lumber which burned down and is now condominiums, the still-standing Central District School House and West District School House, and more.

The postponed date for the bus tours is to be determined.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.

Festivities moved to Norton Park on Sunday with an array of family activities for Plainville’s 150th anniversary celebration. (Photo by Janelle Morelli)