This is the ninth in a series of articles from the Gill Stadium Centennial Committee leading up to the ballpark's 100-year anniversary celebration on Sept. 8.
MANCHESTER -- Almost 100 years in the making, the centennial celebration of Manchester's Gill Stadium begins in less than a week and continues through next weekend. All events are free except for the celebration's centerpiece, Saturday's high school football game between Manchester Central and Concord, with fireworks to follow.
It all begins Friday at 7 p.m. with a boys' soccer game between Central and Alvirne High of Hudson.
On Saturday, kids of all ages get to take over the field at Gill for from 1-4 p.m. The Play on the Turf event will feature music, costumed characters, races, bouncy houses, face painting, a climbing wall, a bungee jump and a pitching cage.
Next comes a series of performances by the marching bands from Concord High and the three city public high schools, Central, Memorial and West. The football game and fireworks cap off the day.
Sunday is re-dedication day, with the Temple Band, originally formed in 1799 and billing itself as "America's Oldest Town Band," getting things started with a performance at Gill from 10-11 a.m. The re-dedication ceremonies themselves begin at 11 and include speeches by local dignitaries, a review of the stadium's history and more music, by the Average Joes Barbershop Quartet and the A.O.H. Pipes and Drums.
A soccer match — originally planned to feature Southern New Hampshire University against Dowling College, but now between two yet-to-be-announced teams after the Penmen decided to play the game on their home field — is expected to follow at 1 p.m.
The celebration concludes Sunday at 7 p.m. with the only event not set for Gill: a cabaret-style show by Vaud and the Villains, who bill themselves as a "19-piece 1930s New Orleans orchestra and cabaret show."
The festivities are funded by the City of Manchester, proceeds from advertisements appearing in the Gill Stadium Centennial official souvenir book and donations from sponsors including: Members First Credit Union; Centrix Bank; Dick Anagnost; Granite State Credit Union; Merrimack County Voiture of the Forty and Eight, Number 183; American Legion Post 21 of Concord; the New Hampshire Union Leader; the state American Legion Baseball Committee; Lionel L. Leblanc; and Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas.