WOONSOCKET – As promised, Albert G. Beauparlant has come up with a fitting final bash for the city’s 125th anniversary celebration, and also the people he wants to carry it out.
During an informal kickoff for the project at the Woonsocket Harris Public Library Friday afternoon, Beauparlant handed the reins for the upcoming Dec. 11 event to Call Publisher Mary Lynn Bosiak and co-chair Erik Cartier, or, actually, a flag.
The flag was one that flew over Main Street during the city’s l00th anniversary celebration 25 years ago, and passing it on to the new chairs was a fitting way to set the stage for the final event of the city’s 125th birthday, according to Beauparlant.
Beauparlant had not only helped organize a widely praised 125th Anniversary Block Party all along Main Street on Aug. 29, but also carried out the same role for the city’s 100th anniversary.
“The flag is from 1988, when I was in charge of the First Night block party we had to end the 100th anniversary celebration,” he said.
This year, the final anniversary event will be held in conjunction with the city’s Main Street Winter Stroll on Dec. 11, beginning with the late afternoon arrival of Santa Claus at the Main Street Mini Park and continuing with a list of activities marking the holiday season, including Charles Dickens carolers, performances by local school groups and organizations, and the additional 125th anniversary sendoff events, including two stages of entertainment, three food venues, and fireworks.
Bosiak and Cartier will have a subcommittee helping them that includes Linda Plays, city marketing and administrative assistant to the mayor; Ron Miller of Fournier and Fournier, and Matt Moylan of Ciro’s Tavern on Cherry Street.
Beauparlant admits the upcoming event won’t have the backing that was available for the 100th Anniversary closing party. Back then, in 1988, the former Marquette Credit Union, Eastland Bank and Fleet Bank were all involved, along with many other sponsors and volunteer groups. “It was a gala event in 1988 and we had food, entertainment and fireworks, and even buried a time capsule on the grounds of the library,” he said.
Twenty-five years later, Beauparlant said he doesn’t remember exactly what went into the capsule beyond “a lot of city memorabilia” piled into separate containers to be opened in 50 years and 100 years.
The city is facing more challenging times today, but Beauparlant said that with a lot of work and volunteerism by active city residents, this year’s celebration can be plenty of fun and likely as memorable as the Aug. 29 block party on a smaller scale.
The initial plans are for the Winter Stroll to “stroll” into the Last Night bash, to be held in the city lots opposite The Call’s 1922 Buell Building at 75 Main St. Stages will be set up in the Mullen Parking Lot and the Olympia Block lot for the night’s entertainment acts, and there will also be food tents and other activities to keep participants warm and busy.
Beauparlant is envisioning special decorations for the buildings on Main Street near the lots, and will also have a large “ornament” designed to go up the Buell Building at 9 p.m. to set off the fireworks above Main Street in a symbolic representation of the city’s “resurgence from its difficult financial times” and progress toward its future.
Cartier said he was happy to be helping out with the event and believes it will continue the positive energy among local residents seen at this year’s block party. “We want to bring people together and keep things moving forward,” Cartier said.
Bosiak said she also was pleased to be involved in the final event of the anniversary. “I’m excited that it is taking place in front of The Call, a city newspaper that has been here for more than 120 years,” she said. “We are very proud to be a part of this great city event.”
Bosiak said the newspaper’s goal is to support “any and all events that bring our community together.”
That was the case with the Aug. 29 block party, and also for Autumnfest on Columbus Day weekend, she said. “I thoroughly enjoy doing the hard work, planning and organizing right down to the last detail because it is extremely rewarding to see the community come together and enjoy a fun-filled event,” she said.
Bosiak said the city needs to provide “more fun events that bring the community together,” and offered that she is happy to play a role in that.
“Woonsocket is a great place with such a strong sense of community, and I am proud to be a community leader here,” Bosiak said.
While passing the flag to new chairs, Beauparlant said he plans to remain involved in arranging for the artistic projects related to the event, include a temporary redesign of the Buell Building’s façade.
“It will not be some yabba dabba doo project, it is going to go way above and beyond,” he said.
On Friday, Miller was already thinking of what types of entertainment he will be working to put on the stages Dec. 11, and Plays was considering additions to the Winter Stroll that would be in keeping with the 125th Anniversary’s final event.
There will be horse-drawn carriage rides for the kids, street performers, and even a few special holiday characters brought in by Bob Billington of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council.
“It is a real community event, and we will have scouting groups selling Christmas trees for their fundraisers and we will be putting together a map of everything that will be going on,” she said.
All of Main Street’s businesses will be encouraged to be open on Dec. 11, and the Museum of Work & Culture and the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Park Visitor Center at Depot Square will also be welcoming visitors, she said. The rain date for the event would be Thursday, Dec. 12.
Matt Moylan will work on a fundraiser to help cover the expenses of the event, and details of the event will be announced shortly with other information about the upcoming celebration, Plays noted. For more information on participating in Winter Stroll and Last Night, contact Plays at 762-6400 at City Hall.