Essex Bicentennial planners seek helping hands

Essex is about to turn 200, and it looks as young as it ever did. Preservation and restoration have kept this lovely little corner of Cape Ann much the way it was back on Feb.

15, 1819, when it was officially incorporated as a town. Dawn Burnham, chairwoman of the Essex Bicentennial Committee, says she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Nor would the members of the bicentennial sub-committees who will be meeting for the first time this Wednesday night to plan the town’s 200th birthday celebrations in 2019. Actually, Essex is a lot older than 200 years. Originally part of Ipswich, it had long been known as Chebacco Parish, a community that thrived on shipbuilding.

Burnham, whose husband’s shipbuilding family can trace their roots back to the ship the first Burnhams arrived on from England back in the 1650s, says that Essex “has worked very hard” to keep its singular character. “When I see how congested other towns have gotten,” she told the Times, “I’m glad Essex has stayed the way it has, it’s a wonderful town.” Not surprisingly, for Burnham and her committee, which has been meeting since 2015, history was a priority in envisioning 2019’s year of bicentennial celebrations. “We have everything dated and planned,” she said, “now we just need help to make it all happen.”

Historical enactments and tours will be part of a lineup that will kick off on Feb.

15, 2019, with an old-fashioned ice cream social and go on through the months ahead to include, as summer settles in on the clam flats, parades, fireworks, picnics, old time baseball games, an Essex Pride Dance, a homecoming weekend, a food truck festival and what the committee’s press release sums up as “a multitude of other activities.” “We’re open to any ideas anyone might have that are a fit with our plans,” says Burnham, who last Wednesday was sworn in as interim town clerk. But what the committee really needs, she says, are volunteers.

Plenty of them. For everything from fundraising to guiding tours around the town’s historic cemetery. “We have Revolutionary War soldiers buried there,” says Burnham. “It’s a huge part of our history.” The committee also has a wish list, beginning with a bicentennial ice cream flavor created specially for the ice cream social that will kick-off the year’s celebrations. “We’re looking for a local ice cream company that would create it, but we haven’t had any luck yet,” Burnham said. “But we’ll keep on looking to we find someone.”

Also on that list: the wish to keep all of this financially feasible, both for the town and the townspeople, as well as the many tourists who the bicentennial is expected to bring to town. “Fireworks cost £1,000 a minute,” says Burnham, “so you can’t get away from that cost, but otherwise, we want to keep everything affordable. Essex has always been a great town when help is needed, and right now help is needed by the town.” Volunteers and “anyone who’s interested” is invited to attend Wednesday’s kick-off planning meeting.

The first of monthly meetings, to be held on the third Wednesday of every month on the third floor of Town Hall, begins at 6 p.m. with a discussion of the bicentennial cemetery tours planned for October 2019, followed at 7 p.m. with planning for February’s ice cream social and the parade in the summer. For more information or to volunteer, see Burnham in person at the town clerk’s office, or email her at [email protected][1]. Joann MacKenzie may be contacted at 978-675-2707, or [email protected][2].

Planning the party The Essex Bicentennial Committee has planned events for the town’s 200th birthday, which include fireworks, a garden tour, a parade and more. These events will begin Feb.

15, 2019, and end Dec.

22, 2019. The committee is seeking volunteers to get involved with the details of the planned events. The committee meets every first Wednesday of the month in the third-floor auditorium at Town Hall, 32 Martin St.

The subcommittees will meet the third Wednesday of the month in the third-floor auditorium of the Town Hall.

Anyone who would like to be on any of these committees is asked to please attend a meetings or meet with Essex interim Town Clerk and Bicentennial Committee chairwoman Dawn Burnham at Town Hall, 30 Martin St. or email her at [email protected][3].


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