Many Volunteers Attend Kick-off Meeting on August 9, 2012
Planning for Portsmouth's upcoming 375th anniversary kicked off on Thursday, August 9, when a group of 20 volunteers met in the Portsmouth Free Public Library to begin organizing a year of events and festivities. March, 2013 will mark the 375th anniversary of the signing of the Portsmouth Compact.
The ad-hoc committee was brainchild of Doug Smith, who facilitated the session with fellow Portsmouth Economic Development Committee (PEDC) member Gary Gump. Participants represented a cross-section of civic organizations, businesses, and residents interested in getting involved, and Council President Joseph Robicheau and Town Administrator John Klimm were on hand to offer the Town perspective.
With less than five months to plan, Smith noted that the group had some catching up to do. "Other towns we've looked at have typically had more lead time," said Smith. "We're already behind the curve." But he proposed a solution which would leverage the town's robust and diverse civic calendar. "We don't have to invent new events," he said, ticking off the many groups active in town that could be potential partners.
"This is an opportunity for the people of Portsmouth to show that we have a lot to be proud of," said Smith. He invited the attendees to brainstorm ideas and work with their respective committees and stakeholders to consider tie-ins to the anniversary. "If you can get excited
about it, other people can get excited about it."
The group quickly got down to business, putting pencils to paper to articulate a list of Portsmouth's qualities for a local professional, who will be designing a logo. And within just an hour, participants brainstormed how to work with groups in town to sponsor fireworks, re-enactments, speakers, art shows, parades, student projects, and sprucing up Portsmouth's 77 cemeteries. Some big themes were proposed, like celebrating Anne Hutchinson, and having a "Taste of Island Park."
Robicheau invited the group to make a formal presentation at a future Council meeting to explore how some of the Town's boards and committees might be able to integrate anniversary themes into their plans. Smith said the group has also reached out to the school department and plans to get on the agenda for an upcoming meeting.
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