Spirits were high this past Saturday as residents celebrated Easton’s 175th Anniversary. No amount of social distancing could dampen their enthusiasm.
Founded in 1845 when the town of Weston was split in two and what was the old North Fairfield Parish became a new town, Easton has been a slice of true Americana ever since.
“I’ve lived in several places and traveled the world, but can’t think of a more idyllic community,” said Steve Tramposch, Easton Town Party event organizer.
The town party kicked off the day’s events, featuring live music by local bands The Brotherhood and Hitch & The Giddyup, beer provided by Veracious Brewing Company and food trucks from DrewbaQ and Jim’s Ice Cream Truck. The party had a lively atmosphere despite the rigorous social distancing to ensure the partygoers’ safety.
“We’re just trying to give back to the community, that’s kind of what Masonry is,” said Mark Zuccharella, the worshipful master of the Masonic Lodge. “We want to make sure that everyone is able to do whatever it is they’re inspired to do, and if we can help in any way with the community we will.”
The event was built around a concert atmosphere and when asked why he was having so much fun at the party, a young boy named Alex said, “Because of the music!”
Safety was a top priority as planners worked with state and local health officers to ensure the event was compliant with Covid-19 health guidelines.
“We’ve been excited all along and had high hopes about celebrating Easton’s 175th anniversary,” First Selectman Dave Bindelglass said. “Obviously the pandemic put a little bit of a damper on some of this.”
Ticket sales were limited, and guests were assigned socially distanced areas for their group. Everyone was required to wear a mask upon entering and leaving the party, as well as whenever they left their personal area for food, restrooms or any other reason.
“The lodge really promised that we would maintain social distancing, masking — which everyone is doing a great job of — and it gives us a chance to celebrate for Easton,” Bindelglass said.
A dazzling display of fireworks at Samuel Staples Elementary School and Morehouse Field capped off the celebration. The event, which helped raise funds for a new Easton EMS building, had to be reimagined from a more traditional fireworks show to assure social distancing. The result was a drive-in format that allowed onlookers to enjoy the beautiful presentation from the comfort and safety of their vehicles.
“We developed the idea to allow everyone to attend as though it was an old-school drive-in movie,” said EMS Chief Jonathan Arnold. “Everyone drives in, stays with their car and tunes their FM radio to a pre-designated radio station, listens to a DJ we will have broadcasting, and watches the show.”
In more normal times an event like this would have called for on-site food trucks, picnicking, and plenty of socializing, but the unique circumstances of the times called for a more subdued, but no less exciting, event.
“The 175th Anniversary was an opportunity for Easton Volunteer Emergency Medical Service to give even more back to our community, ” Arnold said.
“I think the celebration as a whole was a great moment for our town,” said Easton Selectwoman Kristi Sogofsky. “It gave people of all ages something to look forward to and to enjoy while highlighting what makes Easton unique. You couldn’t have asked for more from the fireworks show. It was spectacular! And the turnout was great. My kids really enjoyed it, especially since all the Fourth of July shows were cancelled this year.”
The 175th Anniversary of Easton was a long-anticipated event and the organizers were determined to make sure that festivities could be held even in this era of Covid-19.
“I am most proud of two things,” said Selectman Robert Lessler, who chairs the Easton 175th Committee. “Everyone who attended acted in a responsible manner and observed the pandemic precautions. Also, the turnout for each event was terrific. Therefore, we were successful in celebrating this milestone in Easton’s history, secure in the knowledge that so many townspeople were kept safe and had a great time.”
Easton, like the rest of the United States, finds itself in unprecedented times. Despite these unusual circumstances, and indeed partly because of them, these two 175th anniversary celebrations will likely be events that people remember for years to come. And the 175th celebrations continue with more festive events planned through the rest of the year.