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Warwick’s 250th party this weekend

Saturday costume ball kicks off celebration

This image provided by the Warwick Historical Society shows Charles  and Henry Shaw cutting ice on Moore’s pond  circa 1939-44.

Story DR submitted image

This image provided by the Warwick Historical Society shows Charles and Henry Shaw cutting ice on Moore’s pond circa 1939-44. Story DR submitted image

WARWICK — The town’s weekend plans have been in the making for a quarter of a millennium.

The little town in the hills will celebrate its 250th birthday Sunday, but the party starts the night before.

The town’s 250th Anniversary Gala Costume Ball starts at 8 p.m. Saturday night. Costumes representing any period in Warwick’s 250-year history are highly encouraged, though not required.

Live music will be provided by Merry Company and Allemande North, as Tim Van Egmond calls out colonial and contra dances. The excitement just might be contagious.

“I don’t dance, but this could be the night,” said David Young, Warwick’s administrative coordinator. “If we make it to midnight, it will encompass the actual date of incorporation.”

Refreshments will be served at the ball, and there will also be a cash bar. All are welcome, and a suggested donation of $5 or $10 will help fund other 250th anniversary events. The ball is sponsored by the Warwick Arts Council as well as the town and state cultural councils.

There will be a little time to sleep in after Saturday’s party before the next event.

At 1 p.m. Sunday, it’s time to head down to Moore’s Pond Beach and back in time for the second-annual historic ice harvest.

Though many don’t recall the days of ice boxes, they’re not far from the minds of some Warwickians.

The area around Moore’s Pond didn’t get electricity until 1947, and many residents kept their old-fashioned ice boxes for years to come.

Lots of them held onto their old ice-cutting tools, too.

The Shepardsons, for instance, used to spend a month each winter cutting enough ice for the family’s three homes.

The Shepardsons and others will dig out those old tools and give them a once-over. Sunday, their saws’ sharp steel blades will be ready to plunge into the pond’s icy waters, and an old pair of ice tongs will be standing by to pluck the giant ice cubes.

The ice pulled from the pond Sunday will be packed away in layers of sawdust, where they’ll (it’s hoped) stay frozen until Old Home Days in August. There, whatever’s left from the harvest will be used to churn homemade ice cream for the celebration.

Last year’s warm winter, mild spring and hot summer spelled doom for the first year’s crop of ice, and none made it to the August event. This season’s cold temperatures could result in more successful storage.

As you wait to find out, there are plenty of other 250th anniversary festivities to help pass the time. There’s the series of “second Saturday hikes,” though this month’s will be held at 2 p.m. this Saturday at Bass Swamp, because of last weekend’s snowstorm; “Nopen Mic” acoustic open mic night with Jim McRae in Town Hall at 7 p.m. Feb. 23; a series of concerts sponsored by Wooden Fender, and other fun events.

In between all the activities, you could start to build your float for the Aug. 24 Old Home Days Parade. For more on the parade, or to sign up to help, contact Colleen Paul at 978-544-0014.

David Rainville can be reached at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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