A joyous 250th birthday was observed in Sanford Tuesday night, the kickoff to a year-long celebration. Here, Mayor Thomas Cote, center, is flanked by Sanford 250th Celebration Committee members, some elected officials and young people anxious to go skating as they dedicated the new ice rink as part of the celebration. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

A joyous 250th birthday was observed in Sanford Tuesday night, the kickoff to a year-long celebration. Here, Mayor Thomas Cote, center, is flanked by Sanford 250th Celebration Committee members, some elected officials and young people anxious to go skating as they dedicated the new ice rink as part of the celebration. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

SANFORD — Residents were festive on Tuesday as they turned out to mark a special day in Sanford’s history.

Longtime Sanford skaters Paula Allaire and her father Ray Charpentier performed at Sanford's new skating rink in Central Park Tuesday night, one of the highlights of Sanford's 250th Birthday kick-off celebration. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

Longtime Sanford skaters Paula Allaire and her father Ray Charpentier performed at Sanford’s new skating rink in Central Park Tuesday night, one of the highlights of Sanford’s 250th Birthday kick-off celebration. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

It was a birthday party — and just the beginning of a slew of events planned for throughout 2018 — Sanford’s 250th year of incorporation.

The evening program was marked by a musket salute by Colonial reenactors, singing of the National Anthem by the Sanford High School chorus, a reading by Mayor Thomas Cote of the proclamation that formally established Sanford all those years ago and more.

There was skating on the new ice rink, both by little children just learning and a father-and-daughter team — Raymond Charpentier and Paula Allaire — who have been skating together for years and provided a duet performance.

Topping off the evening was that most American of celebratory  entertainment — fireworks, with red, white, green and blue bursts of color lighting up the sky over City Hall.

There was hot chocolate and coffee and a fire pit to keep the evening chill away, and folks could plunk down a few dollars to buy a T-shirt or a hoodie or a commemorative cap sporting the new Sanford 250 logo.

Back in 1768, when Massachusetts was still a British colony — and Maine was still very much a part of Massachusetts, the land bordered by Kennebunk and Wells to the south, Shapleigh and Acton to the north, North Berwick to the west and Alfred to the east was incorporated  as Sanford.

The earlier history is familiar and is presented as it was recently read into the Congressional Record by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and read by an aide Tuesday evening:

“In 1661, British Army General William Phillips purchased large tracts of land from two chiefs of local Abenaki tribes for his growing lumber business,” Collins aide Paul Nelson read to those assembled at Central Park. “Called Phillipstown, the lands remained largely uninhabited due to the ongoing conflict between England and France for control of the northern American colonies.”

“Hostilities in the region ceased in 1739, and the new community grew rapidly, reaching a population of 1,500 within just a few decades,” Nelson continued. “Upon incorporation as a town in 1768, Maine was a province of Massachusetts, and the Governor of Massachusetts used the occasion to honor Peleg Sanford, stepson of William Phillips and former four-term British Governor for Rhode Island.”

Today, Sanford has a diversified industrial base, from textiles to technology, Nelson said as he continued the remarks Collins has put into the Congressional record:

“Sanford is among Maine’s oldest municipalities but it also is Maine’s newest city, having changed its charter from the town form of government to that of a city in 2013. It is also new in the sense of embracing the technology of the future through the construction of both the largest municipally-owned broadband network in Maine for economic development and of a 50-Megawatt solar array for renewable energy generation. The new academic and career technical high school that will open this summer reaffirms Sanford’s commitment to education.”

The skating rink was dedicated, with little children joining the Sanford 250th Celebration Committee and some elected officials to cut a big red bow. Then, Charpentier and Allaire took to the ice, gliding gracefully across the surface to appreciative applause.

Allaire said Wednesday that her father is passionate about skating — and working. At 87, he continues with his heating repair business and so she chatted a bit about their skating history.

“Since I was a cild we used to head out on Sunday afternoon,” she said. She and her Dad took professional lessons from Harry Bennett of the Biddeford Ice Arena many years ago, she said, and Charpentier appeared in a couple of shows, including one with up-and-coming skater Nancy Kerrigan when she appeared in Portland.

Tuesday was the first time Charpentier had been on skates for two years, his daughter said.

After their performance, the public was invited back to the ice, and Charpentier could be seen giving  impromptu lessons to one young skater.

As folks enjoyed the celebration, some were asked about their hopes for Sanford for the future.

“Jobs,” said Pamela Johnson, a Shapleigh resident born and raised in Sanford. “More jobs. It would be a help for the young people.”

Cheryl Noble said she’d like to see more business in the community and updates to Sanford’s vacant mills.

“My hope is for continued progress,” said resident Jim Desrochers.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

 

 

 

 

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