Wallingford 350th celebration planners want to re-engage community

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WALLINGFORD — The 350th Jubilee Committee’s marketing group is working to rebuild momentum around the week-long celebration of the town’s founding.

The marketing group met Wednesday evening and discussed ways to renew town residents’ interest in attending and participating in the events, planned for June 18-25, 2022.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to delay the celebration — which includes a parade, fireworks and several theme days of events — three times.

The original celebration week was scheduled for June 2020. In March of last year, two weeks after a pandemic was declared, the Jubilee Committee tentatively rescheduled the events to the fall.

Two months later, the events were moved to June of this year. In March, the committee voted unanimously to move the events to June 2022.

Barring an extreme event, such as a hurricane or a spike in COVID-19 cases, this is likely going to be the official celebration week, committee members said Wednesday, although they are planning COVID-19 contingencies.

Christine Mansfield, 350th Jubilee Committee co-chairperson, facilitated the meeting.

“It’s time, we’re ready,” she said. “Time is going to start ticking away.”

Mansfield said the committee is working to see if they can duplicate any of the events or theme days from the original plans.

Committee members also are working to anticipate any scheduling conflicts, such as high school graduation and the Doolittle family reunion.

They also brought up that Juneteenth, the holiday marking the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States which is celebrated annually June 19, takes place during the celebration week.

So far, the only event that has been rescheduled with a solid date is the parade, which will be held on Saturday, June 18, 2022.

Mansfield said that committee members have to meet with town department heads again to coordinate events. With new police and fire chiefs slated to begin soon, they’re the ones who will be in charge of emergency response coverage, she said.

The other 350th subcommittees, which cover things like planning the parade and fireworks, are slated to meet during the summer to talk about plans. The target is a final schedule by Labor Day, she said.

Generating buzz

The main thing the marketing committee needs to do is generate buzz around the Jubilee week events. Part of that is rebranding the event to address the two years that will have passed since the town’s actual 350th anniversary, as well as generating renewed interest from people in town.

Mansfield said they’re planning some pop-up events during the summer. Celebrate Wallingford, the annual two-day fall festival, has been canceled for this year, which in the past has been a good time to sell merchandise and publicize the events.

Jubilee-branded items are available for sale at HUBCAP, 128 Center St., or online at https://wallingford-350.square.site.

There are also plans for a countdown clock, time capsule and decorative painting in the center of town.

The 350th committee is looking for new volunteers to replace people who have dropped out, moved away or had children.

Future of gazebo

Roz Gallagher, the town’s public celebrations committee chairperson who attended the meeting, brought up the future of the town’s iconic gazebo.

The white latticed gazebo at the intersections of Route 5, Center and Quinnipiac streets and Hall Avenue — which sits in a park named for Gallagher’s mother, Johanna Manfreda Fishbein — is slated to be replaced.

The town’s 2021-22 budget allocates about $120,000 for Fishbein Park improvements, including about $30,000 for gazebo replacement.

Gallagher said she would like to know if a gazebo, new or current, would be there during the Jubilee week, especially if marketing materials feature the structure.

The town Public Works department would perform the improvements to Fishbein Park. Public Works Director Rob Baltramaitis was not available for comment Thursday.

LTakores@record-journal.com203-317-2212Twitter: @LCTakores

Wallingford 350th Jubilee tentative 2022 schedule
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