Milford announces yearlong 375th anniversary celebration
MILFORD — A costumed town crier, resident David L. Gregory, along with musicians and singers, attended the Board of Aldermen meeting Monday at City Hall to announce the yearlong celebration of Milford’s 375th anniversary.
“It’s going to be fun,” said City Historian Richard N. Platt Jr., who at 80 years old remembers milestones going back to the city’s 300th in 1939.
“I was 6,” he laughed recently.
Platt, event Chairman Robert B. Gregory, David’s brother, and a host of others have many events in the works for the state’s sixth-oldest municipality.
For the record, Milford was founded in 1639, as were Guilford, Stratford and Fairfield.
Planned activities include Celebration Week, June 9-15, with a parade downtown and fireworks on the harbor; Founding Families Day, July 19-20; and scavenger hunts, tours and special exhibits by the Milford Historical Society.
More ideas are being ironed out by Gregory and his committee of 40, and growing.
People are thinking of a time capsule to be opened in 25 years and some kind of permanent memorial, he said.
“Milford’s Got Talent” strikes the right chord for Gregory.
“We are going to feature a lot of local talent in the week,” Gregory said.
He also ticked off a list of hometown celebrities such as actor John Ratzenberger, actresses Ellen Muth, Christy Carlson Romano and sports personality Dan Patrick.
Other concepts for Celebration Week include a diversity day, tapping into Native American and others’ heritage; environmentalism; ancient music; and maybe a battle of the bands.
“City Hall will be rocking,” Gregory said.
The committee is also looking for a little help from other groups to extend the celebration through the year.
For example, regularly scheduled events such as musters, parades, festivals could blend in anniversary activities, he said.
The list of people involved in the project reads like a who’s who of residents.
It includes city Recreation Department Director Paul Piscitelli; state Rep. James Maroney, D-119; businessman DeForest W. Smith; former Mayor Alberta Jagoe; former state Rep. Peter Smith, D-119; and attorney Robert Berchem.
They’ve been meeting since October, and things are still coming together, Gregory said.
As for Founding Families Day, Platt, himself a descendant of the earliest settlers, has had interest in the event from people nationwide.
Founders’ descendants celebrated their ancestry in 1976 and again in 1989, when 450 attended, he said.
One idea is to hold a service at the iconic First Church of Christ, Congregational, in the style of the Puritans, Platt said.
As for the Milford Historical Society, 34 High St., events will include a special exhibit, “Through the Looking Glass,” featuring a mirror in the Clark/Stockade House dining room and other items from early families.
Also in the works are scavenger hunts at sites in the East Shore, West Shore and the center; “snippets” of history written for local media; a re-enactment at the Milford Oyster Festival Aug. 16 of the acquisition of the land from the Wepawaugs; walking and cemetery tours, said Education Committee Chairwoman Ardienne Damicis.
An exhibit Feb. 1-28 at Milford Public Library, 57 New Haven Ave., will include memorabilia from previous anniversary celebrations.
For details on the society and its three restored houses, Eells-Stow (1700), Clark/Stockade (1780) and Bryan-Downs (1785) visit milfordhistoricalsociety.org.
Gregory’s committee meets Jan. 15 at the Parsons Government Center.
Gregory said organizers will be tapping into social media to promote events. He expects the website, www.milfordct375.org, to be up by Monday.
For more information, contact Gregory at firstname.lastname@example.org.