Our 375th Birthday Celebration is now in the history books with residents, businesses, town employees and participants expressing much appreciation for the events and their planners for providing such a memorable 15-day event.
Planning actually began 7 years ago when Phil Rushworth and Amanda Foulds talked about the very successful 350th Birthday Celebration in 1994. Then, about four years ago, Alan Foulds and Phil Rushworth got serious about it and formed a committee.
Alan had chaired the 350th Committee a quarter century ago and Phil was, at the time, a volunteer at the local cable access station – the forerunner to RCTV Studios where he is today the director. In addition to Chairman Phil and Vice-Chair, Alan, the 7-member planning committee included Catie Robertson, Clerk; Ace Foulds, Treasurer; and 3 at-large members: Amanda Foulds, Jeanne Borawski and Sarah Brukilacchio.
As Chairman of the 375 Committee, Phil Rushworth made RCTV the place where you could drop by and get needed information, t-shirts and 375 pins and directing 150 to 200 volunteers.
Phil lives on Knollwood Road and relates a unique story of how one neighbor became a “PorchFest” host. Phil had always been intrigued by the stone wall that separates his neighbors, the Fergusons, directly across from him, from their neighbors, the O’Neills, on Rachel Road. He mentioned his curiosity to Sarah Brukilacchio, who was leading the “If This House Could Talk” subcommittee. Sarah subsequently found a newspaper article describing the fire which destroyed the Mayall experimental rubber laboratory, leaving just the stone wall standing.
While standing at the wall, Ace Foulds, a member of the 375 committee was sharing this information with the homeowner, Mr. Ferguson, when Dennis and Laura O’Neill greeted them from their back yard on Rachel Road which backed up to the Fergusons. After the rubber factory story was shared, they got to talking about Reading 375 plans. When “PorchFest” was brought up, the O’Neills immediately said they wanted to be a host site. They were matched up with performer, Mike Lucey, a close-by neighbor and guitarist on Summer Avenue.
Regarding the Foulds family, you might say that the whole family was committed from the get-go. Alan has been the Town Moderator for the past 23 years and Reading resident for 39 years while his wife Ace has been far from a silent partner in town activities. She directed the 24-hour “Millennium Party” on the Common that started at 5am on December 31st, 1999 and concluded at 5am on January 1st, 2000. The surrounding churches and other organizations each ran events tied to decades of the previous century.
Daughter Amanda is continuing the Foulds’ tradition of contributing to various town activities and events.
Keeping an historical reminder was Charter Day, honoring June 10, 1644 when Reading was founded. It witnessed State Representatives Brad Jones and Rich Haggerty and State Senator Jason Lewis presenting a proclamation honoring Reading’s 375th anniversary. Thirty individuals, including the aforementioned, took part in sharing snapshots of our history from 1630 to now. They included town leaders, longtime Reading residents, Reading Public School students, and residents of the Residence at Pearl Street.
For logo design buffs, the logo for 375 tied together 3 Reading landmarks….Parker Tavern, Old South United Methodist Church and Lobs Pound Mill which is now gone. The church’s clock purposely reads 6:10 for the date in 1644 when the town was incorporated. Prior to that, the town was known as Lynn Village. Beginning in the late 18th century according to The History Press, Reading witnessed the development of widespread industry to include shoes, clocks, neckties, organ pipes and more. The clock for the 350th celebration logo 25 years ago read 50 minutes past 3 or 3:50.
The 375 Birthday Celebration saw 8 days of events plus 3 special ones that ran throughout the 15-day celebration. Those 3, “Paint the Town”, “If This House Could Talk” and the app-driven scavenger hunt dubbed “Roaming Reading” were popular hits. The Grand Finale on Saturday, June 15th at Birch Meadow Park was a fitting, family close to the 15 day birthday celebration.
While Alan liked all the events for 375, he gives an edge to “PorchFest” where over 30 Reading home porches hosted music on their porches, decks, yards and driveways from noon until darkness on Saturday, June 8th. There were 46 bands performing at 33 locations over that Saturday and there is talk of running “PorchFest”, “If This House Could Talk” and the “Paint the Town Art Walk” as annual events.
Everett and Ginny Blodgett also played major rolls in hosting Parker Tavern activities which included “Clubhouse at the Tavern” and “Revelry at the Tavern” as well as their involvement in the Library’s “Our Town, Your Story” and their speeches at Charter Day’s “Reading Speaks: Voices from the Past and Present”. Profits from their book “Images of America” are being donated to Reading 375, Parker Tavern, and to conserve some of Reading’s artifacts. Everett Blodgett was on the steering committee for the 350th and collaborated with Alan Foulds and several others on the Reading historical book: “At Wood End”.
Publicity Director Jeanne Borawski met with many Reading businesses that made generous donations to support the expenses associated with such a large undertaking. Among them were RCTV, the Reading Cooperative Bank, Eastern Bank, Cummings Properties, Artis Assisted Living and The Residence at Pearl Street.
The 375 Committee is putting together a final report on how things went. They are very grateful on how the town came together from businesses, town government, the army of volunteers and residents in making our 375th Birthday Celebration a very memorable one.
Author’s Note: Alan and Ace Foulds contributed important input to this Spotlight.