A full-day celebration for the Fourth

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By Inge Schaefer

Happy Birthday, USA!!! Let me ask you this: Where will you be July Fourth, Saturday morning at 11 a.m.? There’s no better place to kick off this special celebration than right here in Colchester sitting somewhere along Route 2A, Main Street, waiting for the 46th Annual July Fourth Fair Day Parade to begin. Parks and Recreation Program Coordinator Jennifer Turmel, says “There will be lots of the same people this year in the parade, with a lot of music, some horses, and a special appearance by Captain America.” You might be surprised, however, to discover that this year’s Grand Marshal is not a human resident, but a dog named Scout. Some of you may have followed the tale of Scout who was missing for two months up in the Middle Road area. Residents of the area kept an eye out for Scout and even left food and water to sustain her during her harrowing experience. But, she’s home again and will be our Grand Marshal. No comment from Scout on her reaction to being chosen for this honor, but look for a slight smile as she rolls by.

Also in the parade this year will be the band Dr. Jazz and the Dixie Hot Shots. Well, not entirely true – they have changed their name to “The Dixie Six,” but the same lively, toe-tapping, hand-clapping, body-swaying Dixieland music is back. Band leader and Colchesterite Bill Wicker says he thinks this is their 21st year in the parade, and adds, “We started when Betsy Terry was the town’s Recreation Director.” He adds that when they started they originally had seven pieces including a piano. Bill laughs as he shares, “The nice thing about a parade is that the audience keeps changing so you can play the same song throughout the whole route.” They don’t, of course, and instead choose to mix it up, and it’s always “good-time” listening. Once you hear them you’ll want to have them at your next event so here’s Bill’s number to book the band: 878-8070.

At 7:30 a.m.-ish the 5K run ($5) begins at Union Memorial School and goes down Middle Road, and the parade is at 11 a.m. A wood-tops workshop for kids is being offered by Joe Laferriere from 1-3 p.m.; inflatibles from 6-9 p.m.; 6:45 – 8:45 p.m., the band “The Hitmen” and terrific fireworks, as always, when it gets dark – all at Bayside Park. The band, I’m told, plays rock ‘n’ roll and a variety of music and is really good, so sit back, relax and enjoy the free concert. It’s all such fun every year – right here in our own great town, so come on down, or up or over, but don’t miss it. And, last but not least, grab a non-perishable food item when leaving the house for the parade and drop it off at Creek Farm (where the parade begins), or at the library (where it ends) or at the Food Shelf in between, located between Claussen’s and UMS. See you there!

You may recall when you voted in November several changes to the town charter were on the ballot. One of those approved changes was to establish a Colchester Cemetery Advisory Committee to which members would be appointed by the Selectboard. The committee would oversee the care, maintenance and administration of our six local cemeteries. Up until this time, a Colchester Cemetery Commission had performed these tasks with members elected at March meeting. Over the years, vacancies on this commission became common when no candidate’s name would appear on the ballot – lack of interest by locals perhaps. Write-in suggestions like “Casper the Ghost,” provided the committee with no help at all.

A steady, consistent hand that has diligently performed all the duties associated with the cemeteries for almost 50 years has been Joyce Sweeney, who has been appointed as a member of the new CCAC. Other appointed members are Theresa Carroll, Coralie Magoon (both are also former members of the commission), Pam Loranger, Doug McSweeney, and Wanda Morin. Should you be interested, there is a vacancy on the seven-member committee. Contact the Town Clerk’s office for more info. I asked Joyce how many burials there are on average in a year and she said in recent years the most was in 2009 at 35; otherwise between 21 and 25 is common, and last year in 2014 there were 17. Because of the deep frost this past winter, burials in 2015 were delayed until May 1, so there have only been two this year. There are also far more cremations in recent years than full burials. Issues under consideration by the newly formed committee include the handling of urns containing cremains, signage design, maintenance upgrades and cemetery space limitations. Incidentally, grave stones in all six cemeteries go back 200 years or more, according to Joyce, so there is much history contained in these sacred locations.

Under the new structure the Parks and Recreation Department will perform the maintenance functions needed to keep up the appearance and security of these treasured acres of town history and citizen memories. According to Glen Cuttitta, director of parks and rec, at the moment that means mowing and trimming with plans to replace fencing — first at the Malletts Bay Cemetery, on W. Lakeshore Drive across from the state fishing access, and later, at the others. These include the Village Cemetery behind the Burnham Library, and the Methodist Cemetery behind the CCVFD, both on Main Street; Champlain Cemetery on Jasper Mine Road.; Munson Cemetery on Roosevelt Highway up on a hill; and Fort Ethan Allen Cemetery on College Parkway. Maintenance expenses have traditionally been covered by the town general fund with improvements paid with the reserved cemetery account generated from the sale of a grave site.

If you think you might like to be placed – in whatever way that works for you – in one of these cemeteries, I would suggest you buy your plot now while the cost of the grave sites is still reasonable — $350 for a single grave for a town resident; $200 for a vet; non-resident, $500, extra cremains, $200. I’d be willing to bet these charges will be going up in the near future . . . what do you think? To do that, contact the Town Clerk’s Office, 264-5521, and speak with Wanda Morin.

A reminder that the Parks and Recreation Department this summer, for the first time, will be offering the rental of paddleboards, kayaks, and pedal boats at Bayside Park. From now until Aug. 23, seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Aug. 29- Sept. 20 weekends only). You can rent one for just $15 for one hour; $20 for two hours; $30 for four hours; and $40 for six hours. What a great idea for a family activity, or when the grandparents or other relatives or friends come to visit, or a birthday party or whatever. Malletts Bay is so pretty with lots of interesting places to explore. For more info, call 264-5040.

The best of summer is yet to come – kick it off on the Fourth! Send me your news — ingevt@comcast.net God bless!