TIVERTON — It’s been 16 years since Tiverton threw itself a party back in the summer of 1997, but the dry spell is about to end.
“Celebrate Tiverton” is coming to town. It’s a three-day bash for all ages with events in venues scattered through town from Friday through Sunday, July 26-28 (see insert).
Celebrate Tiverton will kick off at 5:30 Friday evening, July 26, with performances by local musicians at the Middle Avenue Gazebo, an occasion that will be broadcast live by Rhode Island Public Radio.
At sunset, a “Flotilla of Lights” — about 20 boats from the Tiverton Yacht Club, lighted up for the occasion — will pass by the Stone Bridge waterfront.
Then, as dark arrives, there will be a bonfire on Grinnell’s Beach.
“We want it to burn about an hour,” said Linda Larsen, who is coordinating the event. “The bonfire will be just high enough,” said Ms. Larsen (who says she got guidance from the Fire Department), “so that firefighters won’t have to be chasing sparks all night.”
The idea of Celebrate Tiverton surfaced last fall just before the election, said Ms. Larsen.
She and others at the time were active in Tiverton 1st, a political action committee that became involved in the fall campaign.
There used to be a waterfront festival many years ago, and then during the 1970’s and in the 1990’s, including the one in 1997, she said. There were parades and a carnival at Pocasset and events at Grinnell’s Beach.
With the election behind them, last February Ms, Larsen and others (who included Deborah Janick and John Schuyler) created a new non-profit organization that they named Tiverton First – Tiverton Proud. One of its purposes, say its articles of incorporation, is to “help build community.” (Visit their website at www.celebratetiverton.org.
Ms. Larsen, a life-long Tiverton resident, said the thinking behind the Celebrate Tiverton event is that “we’ve been missing the sense of community, where we get together. The town-wide feeling. We’ve been missing a sense of how great this community is. It’s community pride — we seal old friendships, create new ones. It’s like a family reunion.”
After the music, flotilla, and bonfire of the first night, Celebrate Tiverton activities will continue Saturday morning at 10, with a parade (sponsored by the Tiverton Educational Foundation) starting from Judson Street that will end at Li’l Bear Lounge. The parade grand marshal will be Chairwoman of the School Committee Sally Black, and marchers will include members of the school committee and town council.
Other “Celebrate Tiverton” activities Saturday will include storytelling, a summer cookout, Cajun dancing and stargazing at Sandywoods, and on Sunday a 5K run near Tiverton High School and a kayak cruise at Inlet Drive near Seapowet Marsh.
The Thursday night before festivities begin, galleries and merchants at Tiverton Four Corners will remain open late, and serve wine and cheese.
(Also in the Four Corners area during the same weekend — July 27-28 — Cultural Survival will conduct its annual bazaar, while on Saturday, July 27, the Tiverton Historical Society will hold its second annual clam boil at the Chace-Cory House. Neither is a formal part of the Celebrate Tiverton program.)
The scattering of events throughout the town is deliberate and welcome, Ms. Larsen said. “We really are one town. How do we celebrate and recognize all areas in town, from North Tiverton to the waterfront. We wanted to do things that connected with each area of town.”
She said the celebration has had a lot of support. “Everyone who remembers the celebrations from the past think it’s great, and can’t wait for it to become larger. They’ve volunteered to do things, or to clean up.” The only complaint she knows of came from a businessman worried that the parade out front will keep customers away.
Organizer (numbering anywhere from half a dozen to about 30) have been meeting regularly for months. All permits were obtained at one time from the Town Council on May 13.
Money for the event comes from contributions. Ms. Larsen said there was a March fundraiser at Sandywoods that raised about nearly $600. During the three day celebration, an old pickle barrel (from Star Pickling in Swansea) will be dragged around to collect contributions.
An event like this makes a difference for a community, said Ms. Larsen. “You can get 12 people in a room and they don’t agree, but if they’ve had a common experience, it’s something different. If we all share in a town-wide experience that gives us memories, that’s a common bond.”
CELEBRATE TIVERTON SCHEDULE
For more detail see: www.celebratetiverton.org
Thursday, July 25:
• 5-8: Tiverton Four Corners — shops, galleries open, wine and cheese
Friday, July 26
• 5:30-7:30: Middle Ave. Gazebo — live music, food, refreshments
• 7:30: Stone Bridge Waterfront — flotilla of lighted boats
• 8: Grinnell’s Beach – bonfire
Saturday, July 27
• 10-noon: Parade Main Road from Judson Street to Li’l Bear Lounge
• 4:30: Sandywoods Farm — storytelling
• 5:30-7: Sandywoods Farm — summer cookout by Acacia Cafe ($10 adults, $5 children under 12)
• 7-9:30: Sandywoods Farm, Cajun Dancing
• 8:30-10: Sandywoods Farm, stargazing with Astronomical Society of Southern New England
Sunday, July 28
• 10-noon: Tiverton High School area, 5K run
• 10-noon: Inlet Drive, Seapowet Marsh — ‘kayak kruise’