The Old Home Day Committee officially kicked off planning for the Town’s 2016 Old Home Day celebration last week at its first meeting of the year.
The group focused on dealing with the unique challenges that hosting the event during an election year will present, as well as fundraising and preparing for Old Home Day activities.
Chairman Kathy Wagner said the Committee is in great need of volunteers, particularly a finance officer and someone to assist Reed Clark with managing booth registrations for the Town Common.
Town Council liaison John Farrell said the Town Manager has sent all parade invitations to elected officials and has requested those who wish to participate to notify the Town by April 1.
Considering the potential for politically motivated disruptions at the parade and other Old Home Day events, State Senator Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry said it will be important for the Town to communicate its expectations to candidates participating.
“We have candidates running all over the State campaigning for President. This is our event. This is a community event; this is not a stage for politicians. If they want those events, they can have them themselves,” she said.
Wagner said she wants the ability to have someone removed if he or she is acting inappropriately and causing a disruption, such as the man in the chicken suit who heckled Democratic candidates in the Town’s 2014 parade.
“Whether it’s Kidz Night or the parade, if you have people disrupting an event, there should be a way for you to have them removed,” Carson said.
Wagner said she was concerned that the Town made the determination it can’t keep a candidate off the Common because it’s a public area. “Up to this point, we had the ability to say who we want and they have to have permission to be at an event,” she said.
Farrell recommended the Committee consult with the Police Chief and prosecutor regarding such concerns. “They’re your enforcement agency,” he said.
The Committee also discussed adjusting prices for participating in the parade to ensure it’s not prohibitive to small businesses in town. And the group talked about the future of the Lundgren 5K.
Wagner said Millennium Running won’t be organizing the annual road race and asked the Committee for thoughts about the event. Carson said regardless of how they proceed, she would like the name of the race to be preserved.
“I think it’s important because this is such a longstanding race,” she said.
Ultimately, the group agreed that if the Track Club is willing to assume responsibility for the Lundgren 5K, they will support it in moving forward with the road race.
Those who are interested in joining the Old Home Day Committee or volunteering time to assist with this year’s celebration should contact Kathy Wagner at HYPERLINK “mailto:Kathy@imageability.com” Kathy@imageability.com.