Londonderry gathers to honor itself at 115th Old Home Day celebration
LONDONDERRY - Thousands gathered along Mammoth Road Saturday morning for a parade celebrating Londonderry's past, present and future.
As part of the town's 115th Old Home Day celebration, the hour-long parade served as a showcase of area organizations and civic groups, police and fire vehicles, clowns, costumed characters, marching bands, local celebrities and more than a few politicians.
Beloved local volunteer Pollyann Winslow served as the parade's grand marshal.
Perhaps drawing the loudest applause was the 100 or so employees from the Londonderry Market Basket store, who waved signs and chanted "thank you, customers" as they made their way towards Lions Hall.
"We're gonna win this," one fist-pumping employee shouted, eliciting a collective roar from the crowd.
Once the parade passed by there was still plenty to do around the town's center, with dozens of area organizations hosting booths on Town Common and a town fair showcasing locally-made foods and crafts in the historic Grange Hall.
Kathy Wagner, chairman of the town's Old Home Day Committee, said plans for this year's events began in early September.
South Elementary School teacher Deanna Poulin's fourth graders picked the winning Old Home Day theme this year: "Londonderry - Where Memories Are Made."
The celebration began Wednesday evening, and though the rain forced event organizers to move the senior citizens' barbecue indoors, the event remained a popular one.
Thursday evening centered on children's activities, while Friday night's festivities included a concert and a fireworks display.
This year marked the triumphant return of the Lions beer tent, which featured brews from the local 603 Brewery.
According to Wagner, it was the first time in "about 20 years" guests of legal drinking age could wash down their sandwiches with a beer. Proceeds benefitted the Lions Club's charitable programs.
Just down the hill on Pillsbury Road, members of the Franklin-based colonial reenactment troupe, Captain Morrill's Company, set up camp on the grounds of the Londonderry Historical Society complex.
Dressed in the authentic costumes, a dozen or so troupe members shared a glimpse at our nation's past.
Seated by a smoldering campfire, Portsmouth resident Clayton Emery cleaned and reloaded his vintage musket.
"This is sort of a crash course in the Revolutionary era," said Emery, who joined the troupe in 1992.
"For me, it started with just one tomahawk," he said with a grin.
Bedford resident Bob Barber displayed his 1944 Army Jeep both during and after the parade.
Barber said he purchased the Jeep from an amateur collector in Mohawk, New York, and it took him about six weeks to bring it back to its former glory.
The 27-year U.S. Navy veteran said he enjoys bringing his vehicles to events such as Old Home Day, as it allows folks to relive days gone by.
"When you start getting involved in these things, your circle just widens and widens," he said.
Londonderry Old Home Day continues through Sunday with a community church service and picnic. Hosted by the Londonderry Clergy Association, the nondenominational service starts at 11 a.m. Admission is free but guests are encouraged to bring donations of nonperishable food items for the St. Jude Food Pantry.AGuilmet@newstote.com