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Remembering Hanover: A Celebration of 250 Years

Jul 03, 2012 10:12AM ● By Erin Frisch

Remembering Hanover

Founded in 1761 and located in the beautiful Upper Valley in western New Hampshire, the town of Hanover celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2011 with three months of events, activities, and entertainment. The commemoration for this historic occasion was organized by co-chairs Bill Young and Julia Griffin. We were able to catch up with Bill to take a look back at the event itself, as well as all that went into making it happen.

Mountain View Publishing (MVP): Describe what went into your thought processes in planning the event, and describe the overall event itself.

Bill Young (BY): Our guiding principles in planning the event focused on celebrating our history, building our community, and of course, having fun! We planned in low gear for two years, high gear for six months, and at full speed for the last couple [of months] leading up to the events.

We had events starting in early 2011, including the Pig and Wolf Street Art event, history lectures at the Howe and Etna libraries, a logo contest, downtown historical photo exhibits in storefronts, and the writing and publication of the book “The Town of Hanover: 1761-2011”.

Spring commemoration events included a Pig and Wolf sculpture display (20 throughout the town), Daniel Webster Cottage tours led by the Hanover Historical Society, dedication of a monument commemorating the 1761 Charter and dedication of benches to distinguished citizens on Muster Day, parades, Colonial Days at Ray School at the Colonial Cottage that revisited colonial traditions and lifestyles, and planting the town gardens with traditional flowers.

The Fourth of July weekend celebration began on July 2nd with a trumpet duet of the “Star Spangled Banner” played by local high school students. On July 3rd we had a multi-denominational service of Thanksgiving in Rollins Chapel and a family-friendly Buckwheat Zydecko concert at Hopkins Center. July 4th boasted many events, starting with Hanover’s annual parade, only on steroids! It featured historical floats, carriages, vehicles, and characters; oxen and horses; clowns; Uncle Sam; DARTMoose; jugglers; bikers; and a shopping-cart drill team. Then Eleazar Wheelock (founder of Dartmouth College) and Daniel Webster re-enactors taught important and amusing lessons on town history as part of “Red, White, and Blue on the Green.” This also included children’s races and games; audience-participation demonstrations from blacksmiths, weavers, wood carvers, and spinners; and a Big Outrageous Patriotic Hat Contest.

Legacies of the event include playgrounds funded by a Pig and Wolf Art Livestock auction, thousands of photos, and a 250-years film documentary to premiere in the fall of 2012.

MVP: What were some of your favorite parts of the celebration?

BY: There were so many fun and informative activities! Some of my personal favorites include:

  • Street banners showcasing fireworks, Baker Library, and Ledyard Bridge designed and painted by middle school students were displayed on Main Street all summer.
  • Historical actors on the Green and at Webster Cottage were very entertaining; they converted Hanover into a mini Williamsburg stand-up comedy scene.
  • Children’s games are always a favorite of mine. The Running of the Bells race, timed to the Baker Library bells 12 chimes, was new and lasted about a minute. But the anticipation, clanging cowbells, bonging library bells, bouncy inflated Dartmouth Moose, pace-setting Dartmouth track star in a bell costume, and a couple of hundred competitive kids were crazy.
  • The Big Outrageous Patriotic Hat Contest produced some of the most amazing images.
  • The hair-raising whimsical pig and wolf project provided significant fun as well as funds. Over 500 Ray School students and staff helped paint Ray the Pig. Ray now lives in the school lobby. Someone paid $21,000 for one sculpture titled “If Pigs Could Fly.” “Appalachian Trail Wolf” was wolf-napped from the Hanover Inn corner by two frat brothers and quickly recovered from a fraternity basement by Hanover Police. Other vandals were caught on camera beating up on the “Peter Christian Pig and Wolf” and sadly have not been apprehended.
MVP: What do you think is the most unique part of Hanover's history?

BY: Hanover was founded on July 4, 1761. That was 15 years to the day that the colonies declared their independence from England. Daniel Webster, played by Bill Hammond in a re-enactment, commented on this on camera during our celebrations.

What is your favorite part of the celebrations?

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