The observance of Old Home Day has been a long-standing Londonderry tradition, and this year’s 117th annual celebration will continue in that path.
Londonderry hosts one of the oldest consecutive Old Home Day celebrations in New Hampshire, and is one of a handful of communities that have regularly ob served Old Home Day on the third weekend in August.
Old Home Day celebrations were started in 1899 by Governor Frank Rollins as an effort to remedy the decline of the state’s small farming towns by inviting former residents, friends and family back to the Granite State.
The theme for the 117th Londonderry Old Home Day Celebration is “Apple’y Ever After,” suggested by Lindsay Ball’s fourth grade class at Matthew Thornton Elementary School.
The Town’s volunteer Old Home Day Committee has been planning Londonderry’s 117th celebration since last September. The event has grown in popularity through the years with the addition of activities for young and old alike.
This year’s Old Home Day Celebration is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Aug. 17, and ends Sunday, Aug. 21.
Events and activities include band concerts, Kidz Night, a movie night, fireworks, a parade, a 5k road race, a baby contest, Londonderry Sings, and children’s games, all in a family-oriented atmosphere.
Old Home Day chairman Kathy Wagner said there are no major changes planned for this year’s celebration.
The Old Home Day volunteers are inviting all seniors in Londonderry to the 11th annual Senior Night on Aug. 17. The Windham Swing Band will perform at this event.
The annual Kidz Night on the Common is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 18. On Friday, Aug. 19, the annual police and firefighters’ softball game will take place at the Matthew Thornton field, with food for purchase from the Lions. A concert will take place at 7:15 p.m., followed by fireworks at 8:45 p.m., and a bubble gum contest as well.
Saturday, Aug. 20, is the big day. It features a continental breakfast at the Londonderry United Methodist Church, a baby contest in the Matthew Thornton gym at 9 a.m., and kids games and bingo in the Matthew Thornton gym. The Lions Club will have a beer tent, and the Grange will be selling flowers and hosting an Eagle Scout bake sale.
The annual parade, billed as one of the largest in the state, takes place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, and features high school bands, including the Londonderry High Marching Lancers; pipe and drum bands; political candidates, scouts; and a variety of groups and businesses. The 1.2-mile parade route begins at Londonderry Middle School and ends at Mack’s Apples on Mammoth Road.
The parade is followed by an afternoon of vendors and entertainment on the Town Common, as well as historical reenactments at the Londonderry Historical Society.
The Londonderry Historical Society’s Morrison House will hold a Revolutionary War encampment Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with an American Revolutionary War militia unit, cannon salutes, children’s military drills, and children’s colonial games.
The Historical Society will also house antique cars, a maypole, a petting zoo, cooking demonstrations, fur trading, and musket ball molding, along with building tours, blacksmithing, spinning, weaving, pottery, corn husk doll making, music, a farmers’ market, and artisan craft fair. Barbecue chicken, ribs and pork, along with corn on the cob and watermelon, will be available.
Applestock is held that evening on the Town Common and will feature current and former Londonderry High School talent. The event is an opportunity for local students to be involved in Old Home Day. Pizza and soda will be sold at the event, with proceeds going to the student council.
On Sunday, Aug. 21 the Londonderry Clergy Association will offer a community church service, picnic and concert from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Town Common. The service is at 11 a.m., the picnic and concert at noon.