PORTSMOUTH — With a New Year’s day plunge into the bay billed as “375 Polar Dive,” Portsmouth residents will kick off their 375th birthday celebration on Tuesday, Jan. 1. Swimmers and supporters will gather at the Park Avenue beach at 11:30 a.m. and take the plunge at noon. Following the dive, there will be hot chocolate and refreshments at the Beach House on Park Avenue in Island Park. The event (more details of which can be found on the first page of East Bay Life in this issue) is the first of many events that will span the entire year of 2013.
To honor the founding of the town and its subsequent history, the community has planned a series of events and observances over the course of the year.
“It is gratifying how this grass roots effort started and has worked so well in bringing the town together for this celebration. The 375 Polar Dive is just the start of a whole year of celebration,” said Doug Smith, chairman of the Portsmouth 375th Committee. “We have events unique to the 375th birthday, like the parade weekend we are planning for August that will include a series of events that, hopefully, will included dignitaries from the town’s parent city of Portsmouth, England. In addition, regularly recurring town events have picked up a 375th birthday theme for 2013.”
“We are not an official committee of the town government,” he continued. “That is the beauty of the effort in that there are no underlying political agendas and it is designed to just bring us all together. We have gotten great support from local organizations and individuals and it will cost the town very little. We hope it will be a positive shot in the arm for our citizens and our local businesses.”
The year 2013 is the 375th anniversary of the founding of Portsmouth. Portsmouth was settled in 1638 by a group of religious dissenters from the Boston Colony, including Dr. John Clarke, William Coddington, and Anne Hutchinson. It is named after Portsmouth, Hampshire, England. Roger Williams convinced the settlers that they should go there, instead of settling in New Jersey, where they had first planned on going. It was founded by the signers of the Portsmouth Compact. Its original Indian name was Pocasset but the town was officially named Portsmouth on May 12, 1639.
Portsmouth’ s celebration is designed to honor the wide range of events that have built the town over the last 400 years. The celebration’s theme “Proud Heritage – Bright Future.”
The 375th Committee has been working since October 2012 to coordinate and organizel the events. Information can be obtained on the celebration website, www.PortsmouthRI375.com , or by emailing info@PortsmouthRI375.com .