SOUTHWICK – Although it was not the Grand Parade originally envisioned for the town’s 250th birthday, the Nov. 7 vehicle procession through town was met with cheers smiles.
Nov. 7 is the day Southwick was incorporated as its own town and despite COVID-19 guidelines, the Southwick 250 Committee couldn’t let the day pass without a celebration.
“It was a wonderful 250th Anniversary weekend in Southwick! Riding in the procession on Saturday afternoon was a highlight for me — lots of happiness, energy and Southwick pride! So many smiling faces as we toured through neighborhoods all over town. One thing that especially tickled me was seeing so many senior citizens out in the beautiful weather enjoying the procession as I think they have been the most impacted by the pandemic restrictions,” said Southwick 250 Committee Chair James Putnam II.
Southwick Select Board Chair Douglas Moglin and his daughter Rebecca participated in the procession in his beloved Mustang. Moglin’s was among 28 vehicles in the procession, ranging from an MG to a Ford Bronco to a cake float created by Boy Scout Troop 114. The procession was led by the Southwick 250 trolley and residents lined the streets and many decorated their yards with balloons and signs for the event.
“A great job by the 250th Committee,” noted Moglin. “The procession went 28 miles all over Southwick, and many residents came out to celebrate with us. I am so proud to call Southwick my home.”
“I was so pleased and appreciative of our procession led by our beautiful Southwick 250 Trolley that included everything from a fire truck with our own Sparky the Fire Dog to wonderful vintage cars to Alex Prifti’s over-the-road rig to the beautiful Reardon/MacWilliams birthday cake float,” Putnam said. “It was clearly a great moment in a long tradition of Southwick volunteerism. A big Southwick thank you to all of our participants for coming out to do this for the community. Also, a big thank you to the three folks who made it happen: Marcus Phelps, SPD Chief Kevin Bishop and SPD Lt. Bob Landis. It was a pleasure to work with them.”
In addition to the procession, Southwick 250 hosted a community-wide virtual picnic where residents were encouraged to purchase food from local restaurants, many of which offered 250 specials, and eat “together.” A video presentation on the town was livestreamed and on YouTube, with the announcement of the Southwick 250 Photo Contest winners rounding out the events.
Moglin said it was an all-around great day.
“My daughter Rebecca and I had a great time during the car parade, and then took in the video presentation on Youtube – a fantastic production! Hats off to the entire 250 Committee for pivoting and putting on a great event,” he said. “I hope that next year we can have an ‘extravaganza’ and properly celebrate Southwick’s birthday.”
The Grand Parade, which was originally slated for October, was pushed to next fall. Many of the events surrounding the 250th celebration were moved to 2021 and organizers are hopeful they will go on as planned. Putnam said the celebration will continue, in some form, into next year.
“Our special virtual celebration continues online. Our 30-minute ‘Southwick Spectacular’ video is available for viewing on any computer with internet access,” he said. “Also, there are videos of the procession, one from on the ground and one from overhead via drone. Many will also enjoy a Zoom video of a conversation that we had on Saturday morning with our friends in Southwick, England. All of these videos are posted on our Facebook page and will become available on our Southwick250.org web page.”
The next commemorative event is a book release.
“We are eagerly awaiting the publication of ‘Southwick Revisited,’ a treasury of vintage photos of our Southwick heritage curated by Southwick historian Lee Hamberg,” said Putnam. “The publisher tells us that we will receive our shipment in early February 2021. We will be pre-selling these in December as they will be ideal Christmas presents for all Southwickians – those who live here as well as those who live elsewhere and are proud to be from Southwick.”
Between now and the book release, there are no physical events planned and Putnam said with COVID-19 looming overhead, the Committee is watching and waiting.
“At this point, the Southwick 250th Celebration goes on hiatus until such time as public events are once again permitted. None of us know when that might be,” he said. “We have scheduled our 250th Parade for Oct. 10, 2021 in that spirit. Otherwise, most everything else is wait and see to ensure the safety of our community.”
Putnam said the community has done a great job of rolling with the changes brought forth by the pandemic while continuing to show Southwick pride.
“I’m proud of the strength and resilience of our community as we go through this unprecedented public health crisis,” he said. “None of us on the 250th Committee expected this, let alone planned for it. We were disappointed to put all of our wonderful plans on indefinite pause. We did make the best of the situation and accomplished something that was fun for our community. I like to think that some of those kids who watched Saturday’s Procession will look back on it fondly in 2070 as a special moment in their young lives and proud Southwick heritage.”