Leverett busts out cake, events to begin 250th anniversary celebration

The cake that will be lit Monday in Leverett was used by Whately to mark its 250th birthday in June 2022 and more recently last October to celebrate Deerfield’s 350th.

The cake that will be lit Monday in Leverett was used by Whately to mark its 250th birthday in June 2022 and more recently last October to celebrate Deerfield’s 350th. STAFF FILE PHOTO

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 02-27-2024 11:50 AM

Modified: 02-28-2024 5:49 PM


LEVERETT — A large commemorative wooden cake in the field between the Leverett Library and Leverett Elementary School will be lit up in Leverett for the first time as night falls on March 5, exactly 250 years after the town officially separated from Sunderland — one of the kickoff events for the town’s semiquincentennial.

“After planning for so long, it is wonderful to see all our hard work come to fruition,” Kari Ridge, a member of the Leverett 250th planning committee, said in a statement. “A major goal of this year’s events is to recognize all the people who have lived on this land we now call Leverett. Throughout the year, we will be honoring the founding of our town and also the Native Americans who were here long before.”

Powering up the electric candles on the 2,000-pound cake, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, will be one of the first signs that the 2024 anniversary celebrations are underway. The cake, 25 feet wide and 16 feet tall, was constructed for Westfield’s 350th anniversary in 2018 and has been shared by surrounding towns as they each mark founding milestones, last being displayed in Deerfield before being brought to Leverett last fall.

Earlier that day, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. a 250th anniversary postage station will be set up in the Leverett post office, where the public can bring uncanceled stamps affixed to any paper and have them stamped with a special postmark. Postmark stamping will continue in-person at the post office March 6 through March 9, and after that will continue through the mail.

Even before the milestone date, on Saturday at 8 a.m. at the elementary school, a pancake breakfast is being put on by the Leverett Firefighters Association.

Then, a week later, on March 9, the town is staging its official birthday party at Town Hall from 1 to 4 p.m.

The day will include slices of a birthday cake, music, a scavenger hunt with prizes, old-timey games, face-painting, Fairy Hair, crafts and a brief presentation on Leverett’s history by Dave Palmer.

Music will be provided by On the Lam, Craig Hollingsworth and Cynthia Thomas, and across the street at the First Congregational Church the church choir and Leverett Community Chorus will be performing.

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A short walk away, the Field Museum will be open throughout the festivities, and other historical items can be viewed at the Barnes Gallery.

The committee planning Leverett’s celebration has unveiled other aspects of the anniversary previously, including tile mural “Past is Present is Future” by Judith Inglese, installed on the exterior of the library last year, and a logo that adorns various anniversary merchandise. The logo features a leafy tree with roots designed by Leverett artist Lori Lynn Hoffer and modernizing a logo designed by Stella Schoenhaut for the bicentennial 50 years ago.

More activities will take place in the spring and summer. On April 10, Margaret M. Bruchac will talk on “Recovering Native Histories Along the Kwinitekw (Connecticut) River,” sponsored by On Native Land: Leverett Advocacy and Education Group; and on April 20 there will be presentation by Eva Gibavic on the mysteries of Brushy Mountain. An antique vehicle and equipment show is set for May 25, a plant walk with naturalist Jean Bergstrom on June 15 and a July 6 parade and barbecue.

More details can be found online at www.leverett.ma.us/g/96/250th-Celebration.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.