1986 was a year of a grand celebration of Granby, both with a look back at the town’s 200-year history and a look forward to a future filled with promise.
Volunteers and organizations planned a year-long agenda of events that culminated on a glorious September Saturday in a burst of fireworks, the best parade and picnic the town had ever seen.
The parade was a display of community spirit, ingenuity and humor. The fifes and snare drums of the town’s own Marquis and the heartbeat-thump of the GMHS Marching Band’s base drums kept the long line of participants in step. That lineup included Governor Bill O’Neill, local dignitaries in antique cars and horse drawn carriages, LAFD fire apparatus, GPD police cruisers and town trucks, a Governor’s Footguard unit, a color guard from the Connecticut State Police and fantastic floats created by almost every organization in town. Marching together or singly, residents dressed in Colonial garb, as Mother Goose and in the exercise garb of the day—aerobics leotards. A group of energetic and fun-loving guys put on khakis, navy blazers and straw boaters, fired up their push lawn mowers and performed a synchronized, kazoo-accompanied routine the entire length of the parade route. Route 202/10 was lined five-deep from the high school to Salmon Brook Park.
When the last unit passed, townsfolk fell in behind and marched to the park where picnic food-booth lines were long but convivial, a “right-on-the-money” parachute drop, carnival rides, square dancing and several bands kept the throngs happy and entertained.
As dusk turned to dark, blankets were spread, and jackets donned against the evening chill. With a magnificent “thwump”, the first volley of a half-hour-long fireworks display lit the sky. Granby’s day-long 200th year celebration ended with the sky aglow. A bright light to start a new century.
On Sunday, there were an Interfaith Service of Thanksgiving on the middle school lawn and the Founders’ Day program with a keynote address by Dr. Leslie Fishel, then director of the Hayes Presidential Library in Ohio. He shared anecdotes of the life of Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th President of the United States whose family roots traced deep into Granby history and, generations later, the Hayes family still lives here.
The day ended with festivities and tours at the Salmon Brook Historical Society near where Hayes’ ancestors and other courageous men and women built the settlement of Salmon Brook that would become Granby, Connecticut.
That weekend, 34 years ago, was a celebration that will remain a memory and milestone for the town and for all who experienced it. For the Drummer, it is a wonderful September memory to recall as the paper embarks on its 51st publishing year.