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Arch of Triumph makes final stand downtown tonight

September 11, 2013

WOONSOCKET – The last hurrah of the city’s 125th Anniversary Arch of Triumph will be observed with a celebratory cookout for volunteers and supporters this evening, followed by a final lighting of the 72-foot high locally created work of art on Main Street.

Albert G. Beauparlant, Main Street Block Party co-chair with Linda Plays, said the evening will give local residents one final chance to see the Arch’s scenes of Woonsocket history, created by local artist Ron Deziel illuminated by special lights and highlighted by the working fountain flowing from the top of the scaffolding-created structure.

The Block Party committee’s “farewell” to the Arch of Triumph evening will take note of the three-week old temporary landmark and its status as “the largest by volume monument in the state of Rhode Island,” Beauparlant said. The structure not only rises 72 feet, but also stretches 50 feet wide as part of its replication of the famous Arch on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris.

After a private reception and cookout at 6:30 p.m. for the volunteers, Block Party supporters and representatives of the over 20 different organizations and businesses contributing to the Aug. 29 anniversary celebration, a lighting show will begin the Arch’s final illumination.
“It is only going to be on for a very short amount of time so people can come and take their last pictures of the Arch,” Beauparlant said.

A special closing display will precede the darkening of the Arch’s mural paintings just before 8 p.m. Mayor Leo T. Fontaine also plans to have a photographer at the final lighting to take a picture of the Arch that will be used to create this year’s city holiday ornament, Beauparlant said.

After the final light show, a crew of volunteers will ascend the arch’s scaffolding to begin disassembling its art panels and Woonsocket banner. Riggers are scheduled to begin disassembling the scaffolding the following day, he noted.

“We’re not wasting any time. By 8 p.m. the final lighting is done and by 8:05 p.m. the structure is going to start to be dismantled,” Beauparlant said.

The cookout was scheduled by the Block Party Organizing Committee and Mayor Fontaine as a way “to reach out, shake everybody’s hand and say thank you,” to everyone who helped to put on the city’s successful anniversary gathering on Main Street, Beauparlant said.

Prior to the Block Party, the organizers put on five separate fundraisers at local restaurants and community venues that helped to raise more than $70,000 in support of the event.

The Block Party itself, with music and performing arts stages set up all along Main Street from Market Square to the Stadium Theater at Monument Square, highlighted the many things still to be found along the city’s once vibrant Main Street business district. A classic car show put vehicles from past years at locations where they would have easily been found in Main Street’s heydays, and city restaurants — both from inside and outside the Main Street district — served tasty meals to the thousands of people walking through the closed-off area.

The Police Department, Fire Department and city public works employees were all to be credited for their contributions to make the Block Party a safe and memorable event, according to Beauparlant.

And while the Arch is soon to be just a memory, Beauparlant said the 125th Anniversary Organizing Committee is not quite done with its work noting the city milestone.

“There is going to be a year-end spectacular ending to the anniversary party, just as there was in 1988,” Beauparlant said. The closing event will be held sometime in December before the holidays and is currently being planned, he said.

As for the Block Party, Beauparlant said he believes it met all the expectations of those who planned it. “It has gone off in a positive way to unite the city in its darkest times and from here I think that the city united will be able to move on to the large picture in the very near future,” he said.

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