NEWINGTON – The town is getting a head start on its 150th anniversary celebration.
It won’t be until the year 2021, but a committee planning anniversary activities is set to begin its work in early 2019, two years ahead of time.
Newington Town Council voted to establish a 150th anniversary Steering Committee at one of its recent meetings. The body will consist of 21 members, selected through an application process. Political affiliation will not be considered, according to a resolution passed unanimously. Residents interested in getting involved are encouraged to send a letter to the Town Manager’s Office by Dec. 31.
Mayor Roy Zartarian, Majority Leader Carol Anest and Minority Leader Tim Manke will interview selected candidates and elect a chairperson. Committee members will go on to elect a vice chair, secretary and treasurer.
Manke pointed out that the committee could be an approach for people to get their feet wet in community service.
“If you’re looking for ways to start volunteering in town, this is a great place to start,” he said. “150 years is nothing to sneeze at; it’s going to be a great celebration but we have to have some plans in place.”
Not only will members be arranging events for the year, but also tracking money received by fundraising and other means. An account will be kept by the town manager.
“The committee is going to come to us to ask for seed money and then they will have to do their own fundraising for the celebration,” Anest explained. “I encourage anyone who has any sort of interest to submit their letters,” she added. “This has nothing to do with political party, we just want to get the whole town together to celebrate the positive in Newington and have a good time.”
The town’s 125th anniversary was the last birthday celebrated. A committee was formed by Betty Baxter and Stanley May in 1993. Chairman Paul Ucello fondly recalled planning a full year of fun, beginning with three dance balls and culminating with a parade, carnival and fireworks.
“It was a big event,” Ucello said this week.
The committee requested $10,000 from the Town Council as seed money to begin its work. Members went on to manage several successful fundraisers, selling 1996 calendars featuring residents’ artwork and a history book detailing the last 25 years, to supplement one printed for Newington’s centennial celebration in 1971. At the year’s end, $6,756 was returned to the town.
Newington was part of Wethersfield until 1871, when local families applied to the State General Assembly for incorporation as Newington, meaning “new town in the meadow.”
One-hundred years later, there was a centennial celebration. This inspired many of the 1996 events, including a popular beard-growing contest.
In April 1996 there was a March for the Parks Walkathon to raise money for improvements and programs at Churchill and Mill Pond Parks. Also that month, 72,000 daffodil bulbs were planted around town. When they were in full bloom that fall, there was a Daffodil Festival.
Newington Parks and Recreation celebrated its 40th anniversary the same year, so department staff held several events in conjunction with the town’s birthday, including a fishing derby.
Ucello said he’d be more than happy to assist the next anniversary committee if asked. He shared a few words of advice for incoming members:
“Have fun. Make it a fun thing for Newington. Do not bring any politics into the committee.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.