Wednesday, July 29, 2015

They Say It's Your Birthday

If you’re looking for an easy twenty-seven points word score in a Scrabble game, especially between tomorrow and Sunday (and even more especially if you’re in Taftville), try ‘sesquicentennial’ on for size, because that’s what the anniversary celebration going on in Taftville is all about. 

One hundred and fifty years at the same location, so to speak. Somehow, ‘congratulations!’ doesn’t quite do all that history and all those people and progress justice but I think a four-day birthday is real close to getting it right.

Despite what many believe, I wasn’t here when Taftville sprang up around a cotton textile factory built on the Shetucket River. That factory, once called the Taftville Cotton Mill but now better known as the Ponemah Mill, was, in its time (shortly after the Civil War and for decades that followed), one of the largest textile mills in these United States.

Ponemah Mill is still a dominant and prominent point of pride and frame of reference for many Taftville residents who regard it in much the same way as the fingers on a hand look to the thumb. And hopefully, sooner rather than later it will be a superlative example of successful historic restoration and community repurposing, not for just Norwich but for all of New England.

That’s a piece of the past and a peek at the future but here in the present, there’s a 150th birthday celebration that will be talked about for the next one hundred and fifty years with a lot of the activities at or near the Wequonnoc Arts and Technology Magnet School and the Taftville Volunteer Fire Department on Providence Street.

Taftville so heavily influenced by waves of Irish and French Canadian immigration will mark its birthday by drawing closely from that heritage as well as adding attractions galore such as a carnival and a community parade stepping smartly Saturday morning at ten. 

There will also be stage entertainment on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, large craft shows over the weekend, community booths, nightly dinners on Friday at the American Legion/VFW and on Saturday at Sacred Heart School and, of course, an extended and extensive opportunity to get up close and personal with those residents, famous and maybe not so much, who helped form Taftville from its beginning to its here and now.  

With so much going on, you owe it to yourself and to those call the Village of Taftville their home, to stop by, enjoy the hospitality and be a part of the party. And if you want to cap your Scrabble game with thirty-two points that usually comes with a party-hat, noisemakers as well as cake and ice cream, be sure to wish Taftville a H-a-p-p-y B-i-r-t-h-d-a-y!

Image by Scott Boenig
-bill kenny

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