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Gill launches its 225th anniversary with spirited sing-along

  • Jim Bellany, from left, Carolyn Bellany, Suzy Maddern and Phil Maddern sing along as Emily Samuels, front, plays guitar during the New Year’s Day Americana Sing-along at the Gill Town Hall on Monday. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Ben Levy and Sue Kramer share a book of songs as they sing together during the New Year’s Day Americana Sing-along. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • People gather in the Town Hall to kick off Gill's 225th anniversary with an Americana Sing-along event on New Year's Day, Monday, Jan. 1, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Lynn Nichols, right, and Don Krüger share a book of songs as they sing together during Monday’s Sing-along. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Emily Samuels plays guitar during the New Year's Day Americana Sing-along at the Gill Town Hall on Monday, Jan. 1, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Emily Samuels plays guitar during the New Year’s Day Americana Sing-along. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Steve and Joyana Damon sing together during the New Year's Day Americana Sing-along event at the Gill Town Hall on Monday, Jan. 1, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Ben Levy and Sue Kramer share a book of songs as they sing together during the New Year's Day Americana Sing-along event at the Gill Town Hall on Monday, Jan. 1, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Suzy Maddern sings during the New Year’s Day Americana Sing-along. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Sorrel Hatch holds her 1-year-old son Everett Bingham during the New Year’s Day Americana Sing-along event at the Gill Town Hall on Monday. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



Recorder Staff
Monday, January 01, 2018

GILL — As ice rattled down from a large sycamore tree outside the Town Hall, merry voices raised in song welcomed 2018’s inaugural day.

“So far, so good. If we run out of books, we’ll tell people to look over shoulders. Emily (Samuels, local music teacher) brought her guitar. We’re going to yell out keys and she’ll start playing,” said Gill resident Steve Damon, a music teacher at the Union 38 school district.

Damon helped organize the New Year’s Day singing event, which also marks the beginning of Gill’s year-long anniversary celebration. Gill was officially incorporated in 1793. Isaac Bingham and Sorrel Hatch of Upinngil Farm also helped with organization, along with Damon’s wife, Joyana.

Other events scheduled so far for Gill’s 225th anniversary celebration include a contra dance next month, a puzzle swap, community skating and a summertime pig roast, according to Gill Administrative Assistant Ray Purington.

Temperatures in Franklin County on New Year’s Day dipped below zero, prompting the National Weather Service’s Taunton office to issue an advisory warning “the cold wind chills will cause frostbite in as little as 30 minutes to exposed skin. Expect wind chills to range from zero to 20 below zero.”

But the frigid air didn’t seem to hinder turnout. More than 40 people shared half as many books to sing dozens of classic Americana songs like “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” “Oh My Darlin’ Clementine,” and “Home on the Range.”

A community spirit reigned throughout the hour-long sing-along. Songs were punctuated with laughter, jokes and shared snippets of the town’s history. And following the music, homemade refreshments were served.

“People are pretty close. We have a vibrant town meeting,” said Lynn Stowe Tomb, a member of Gill’s Historical Commission who moved into town in the 1960s. Stowe Tomb noted that the Historical Commission will reopen its museum at the Riverside Municipal Building this year in honor the anniversary.

The sing-along, which a few people said highlighted Gill’s close community, was well received by those in attendance.

“I’m a hillbilly at heart. It’s part of what people do in Gill, it’s just natural. Everyone knows everyone,” said Phil Maddern, 78, a former Selectman who lived in a house across from the town hall for “my first 70 years.”

“It’s a great idea because it gets people breathing nice air. It’s a good way to refresh yourself for the new year,” said Carolyn Bellany, 71, Maddern’s cousin, who was there Monday with husband, Jim Bellany.

“Very warm and supportive feelings were evident, from the songs picked to the interactions between people. It was great to see all ends of the spectrum, from young people starting out to older folks who went to a school that doesn’t exist anymore.” said Northfield resident Judi Campbell.

Based on this New Year sing-along’s success, Damon said there’s a good chance the event will become an annual town tradition. And in June, just before haying season begins, Bingham said they might hold another sing along in a barn on Upingil Farm.

“We haven’t done them in a few years,” Bingham said. “Maybe we’ll have another this year.”

Reach Andy Castillo at: acastillo@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261, ext. 263