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Reading Prepares for Celebration of the Town's 375th Anniversary

Apr 04, 2019 07:36AM ● By Katie Lovett

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READING – The town is marking its 375th anniversary and there’s going to be plenty of celebrating.

After all, it’s a party that’s been years in the making.

Philip Rushworth, the chairman of the Reading 375 Steering Committee first began thinking of the 375th celebration 25 years ago when he attended festivities for Reading’s 350th birthday.

“I said to [organizers] ‘are you doing a 375th? And they said, ‘no, you are,’” Rushworth said. They promised to lend a hand, if he agreed to run it, they teased.

“Back in 1994, we joked about the 375th,” Rushworth said, “and now here we are.”

Discussions and planning for the celebration began about five years ago, and now the festivities are only about a month away, Rushworth said.

The celebration will begin with an opening party on May 31 and run for two weeks until June 15.

The opening festivities will include entertainment at various downtown venues throughout the evening, which will be accessible with a “Reading 375th” button, available for purchase for $3.75 at Whitelam Books, RCTV, and Reading Cooperative Bank.

Proceeds will be used to fund the celebration with any surplus going into a fund for Reading’s 400th anniversary.

The range of activities include a “Concert for Reading” on Saturday, June 1, during which William Endslow will produce a concert featuring the Reading Symphony Orchestra, the Reading Community Singers, and music from various Reading Memorial High School groups at at the high school performing arts center.

On Friday, June 7, the Parker Tavern museum, the site of Reading’s earliest building and an 18th century tavern will return to those roots as the local history museum offers period music and libations for the evening.

The fun continues with Reading’s first PorchFest on Saturday, June 8. Local bands and musicians will play on porches, decks, yards and driveways throughout the town.

Rushworth said homeowners have stepped forward to offer their property for performances, and musicians are continuing to sign on. A map of the performances will be available.

Also that day, The Essex Base Ball Association, a 19th century vintage baseball club on the North Shore will play a game for spectators using 19th century rules, equipment and uniforms at Washington Park. Family-friendly baseball themed refreshments will be served at the Parker Tavern.

That evening, the Tavern will be the site of a cocktail reception, featuring drinks honoring Reading’s historical figures and prominent residents.

The Rotary Club will host a “Taste of Metro North” at Hawkes Field House featuring samples of cuisine from local restaurants.

The anniversary party will conclude with a full day of happenings on Saturday, June 15. “Friends and Family Day” will include The Lions Club Dog Parade, hot air balloon rides, a community concert, fireworks and food trucks.

 Throughout the two-week period, residents can explore their neighborhoods for homes participating in the “If This House Could Talk” program. Resident are urged to share the story of their house on a sign in front of their property for people to read.

“It can be historic but it doesn’t have to be,” Rushworth said. He’s working on a sign describing how his house was a Sears Catalogue Home, a kit house sold by Sears, Roebuck and Company from the early 1900s through the 1940s.

“We’re hoping as people house-hop during Porch Fest, they will see these interesting signs in the neighborhoods and learn stories they may not know.”

Maps of participating houses will be available.

Excitement for the celebration is growing, Rushworth said. While the steering committee consists of 7 individuals spearheading the celebration, the mailing list goes to 200.

The anniversary is a much different affair than Reading’s 350th, he added, which offered larger events, such as a parade and Grand Ball.

“We didn’t want to copy what they did 25 years ago,” he said, “This is smaller, more neighborhood-oriented.”

For a full schedule of events, visit http://www.reading375.com.

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