September 29th was a day of ceremony and celebration in Bellingham as residents gathered at the newly completed 300th Anniversary Park for its dedication. 300th Anniversary Committee Chairperson Jennifer Altomonte opened the ceremony, thanking everyone involved in making the park a reality.
Charles River Watershed Association’s Delilah Bethel briefly described what stormwater runoff is and how it starts out clean but along the way picks up trash and pollutants, such as phosphorus, that prohibit the water from soaking into the ground as well as it does in landscaped and natural areas. “Stormwater runoff is now the number-one cause of water pollution in local streams such as the Charles River. Phosphorus causes excessive algae and plant growth, which create a toxic habitat for fish and other species and hinder recreation such as boating, fishing, and swimming.”
Jennie Moonan, a representative of Tighe & Bond Engineering, spoke about her work on the project. “Through funding received from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Bellingham was able to make stormwater cleaner at this Municipal Center. This park, along with the basin that captures and infiltrates stormwater behind the building, lets rainfall absorb into the ground and reduces the amount of pollution that travels to the Charles River.”
State Rep. Mike Soter (R-Bellingham) took the mic next and gave a brief history of Bellingham. “In 1719, when the village was founded, this land wasn’t thought to be valuable, but the founders had a vision.” He noted that Bellingham’s history includes Deborah Sampson, who was born near Plymouth but actually enlisted in the Revolutionary War in Bellingham, dressed as a male soldier. Sampson is thought to be the first woman to serve in the military (Note: According to the website https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/deborah-sampson
, Sampson was definitely the first woman to receive a military pension.) “She was the first to break the glass ceiling,” Soter remarked. He spoke of moving here in 2005 and finding a community where people care for and watch out for each other. Soter, elected to the Board of Selectmen in 2011, and then state rep. in 2018, said, “I take pride in Bellingham.”
Former State Rep. Dan Ranieri, a graduate of the BHS class of 1969, the year of the town’s 250th anniversary, noted that his class worked with the class of 2019 to donate a granite bench for the Park. Ranieri recalled some of the people who are no longer with us who contributed much to the town, such as Larry Cibley, Tony Mazzola, Betty Lowry and Peter Vangil.
Next Phil Biron spoke about his father, Ben, who was a historian for the town prior to Ernie Taft. Phil noted that after his father witnessed atrocities, destruction and suffering during World War II, he dedicated his life to the service of others. Plans to be an attorney evolved into a lifelong teaching career in Bellingham. According to Phil, his father’s efforts toward establishing zoning bylaws for the town led him to be known as the “Father of Zoning.” The Biron family also donated a bench for the park, in memory of their parents, Ben and Terry Biron.
After Al Reghnahan, representing the Bellingham Lions Club, spoke about the club’s donating funds for the park’s flagpole, Altimonte officially dedicated the park. PJ’s Bar & Grille served free burgers (110), hot dogs (80) and sides, along with decorated “300” sugar cookies.
Bellingham’s 300th Birthday Party Held on the Town Common
Diane Hamilton picks up her
Once the dedication of the 300th Anniversary Park was concluded, the action moved to the town common for Bellingham’s 300th birthday party. Talented musicians from multiple grade levels performed, and people sang along when the BHS band played “Happy Birthday.” There were cupcakes from the Cake Bar in Franklin, and all partygoers received a party favor—small toys such as yo-yos and inflatable balls were there for the taking.But the big event was the effort to break the record set for ice-cream eating in the Guiness Book of World Records®—979 ice cream cups (think Hoodsie® cups). A noble effort—680 cups were eaten—but they fell short of exceeding the record, which many present attributed to the Patriots’ game being televised at the same time.
Jen Altomonte (left) & Bernadette Rivard hand out ice cream cups
After the event, 300th Anniversary Chairperson Jennifer Altomonte said, “Thank you to everyone for contributing to this EPIC event. Huge thanks go to Town Administrator Denis Fraine and his crew, especially Jake Gagnon, Timothy Tucker, and Joe Lyons, as well as event chairs Ann Odabashian and Shadia Khoury Velez for all of their help and dedication and months of planning; and a big ‘Thank you’ goes to our event sponsors—Market Basket, PJ’s Bar and Grill, Stop & Shop Bellingham, Ve’Lace Bridal and the 300th Anniversary Committee.”
Taking into account the beautiful sunny day, music provided by Milford radio station myFM, cupcakes, toys, face painting, and of course, ice cream, it was a party well deserved for Bellingham’s 300th Anniversary.