July 18, 2019

Bicentennial plans mobilize Houlton Focus sharpens as residents get involved

HOULTON – For now, it looks like spring is in the air, and buried deep within everyone is a desire to celebrate.

In Houlton, the first signs of spring and a pending vision of summer has prompted town officials and community members to place greater focus on plans for a coming bicentennial celebration.

The committee that is planning the town’s 200th birthday party has split into one core committee and a number of subcommittees. The smaller groups are focusing on coordinating specific portions or events of the overall celebration, bicentennial committee Chairwoman Joyce Fitzpatrick said recently in a written statement.

Two hundred years after the town first was settled by Joseph Houlton and his wife, Sarah, its current residents are planning to mark the festivities with a number of events.

The official celebration is scheduled for Aug. 18-19, but those two days only signify the time when most of the major events will take place.

For more than a year, a large group of residents and community leaders has gathered to brainstorm ideas and jot down a rough draft for the fete.

Projects and publicity related to the bicentennial have begun and will continue until the official kickoff.

A bicentennial logo was selected last summer. Designed by local artist Kim Forrest, the logo will be placed on all information that goes out about the celebration.

A number of brochures promoting the event have been drawn up, and by the time the bicentennial rolls around, the downtown banners on the black lampposts in Market Square will be taken down.

Fitzpatrick said new banners will have “Welcome to Downtown Houlton” on some and “Celebrate Houlton” on others. Each will sport a white logo and printing, she added.

The lampposts also will be repainted.

Volunteers are soon expected to kick off the second leg of a campaign to plant 200 trees to mark the town’s 200 years.

A group of about 25 local actors has spent several months rehearsing Thornton Wilder’s three-act play “Our Town,” and the cast will put on eight performances during the celebration.

A number of commemorative items – including cups, T-shirts and sweat shirts – will be sold at the event.

During the two days of the August celebration, plans call for a large parade and fireworks display, in concert with children’s activities, historical re-enactments and musical performances.

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