Orange Selectboard talks potential Old Home Day

  • Orange Selectboard Vice Chair Thomas Smith, second from right, speaks about the possibility of holding an Old Home Day in town next year. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 9/24/2021 5:56:32 PM

ORANGE — The idea of starting an Old Home Day in town was met with positive feedback from town officials and residents alike during a Selectboard discussion this week.

Selectboard Vice Chair Thomas Smith suggested holding the event on June 18 and calling it Orange Home Day. He said he had brainstormed the possibility with some other people and wanted to gauge the Selectboard’s support of it during Wednesday’s meeting. An Old Home Day serves as a type of town reunion and celebration, somewhat resembling a festival or fair.

Smith suggested the presence of a dunk tank and mentioned he had reached out to an amusement company in New Hampshire to learn the cost of one or two rides.

“And I will sit on that dunk tank and you can throw however many balls you want because … I have no problem with it,” he said with a chuckle. “Something fun. I think it would be really good for the community.”

Smith also said he will reach out to the town’s Police and Fire departments to determine the possibility of holding a baseball or softball game or tug-of-war.

“I’m just beginning to, like, dig into this,” he said, adding that he thinks the event and the planning required for it would be a breath of fresh air from the “doom and gloom” surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’d love to help with something like this,” chimed in audience member Jolynn Novak, who owns Orange Roller Skating, which she mentioned she would be willing to have incorporated into such an event. “I would totally be down for this.”

Novak said she could donate waterslides and obstacle courses for the occasion.

Smith thanked Novak and told her to email him.

“So we need about another 10 people like her, to step up and help you … be the chair of the ‘Old Home Day Committee,’” Selectboard Chair Jane Peirce told Smith. “Keep us posted.”

Selectboard member Dick Sheridan said he thinks the idea is a good one. In the roughly 50 years he has lived in Orange, Sheridan said he doesn’t recall the town ever having an Old Home Day.

Smith said the event, which could be held at Butterfield Park, would coincide with the Orange Solstice Riverfest.

“I’m going to start saving my money to keep you in that dunk tank,” Peirce told Smith to a round of laughter.

“Wait a minute,” Smith playfully interjected, “I thought you were going to join me. What?”

Selectboard member Andrew Smith, attending the meeting via the online video conferencing platform Zoom, voiced his support, too.

“I love this idea,” he said. “I grew up in a small town, which had an Old Home Day and it really brought the community together. So, Tom, please include me on emailings ... and let me know how I can help.”

According to the New England Historical Society, Old Home Days were started by New Hampshire Gov. Frank Rollins in 1899 as a way to lure back former residents to their rural hometowns. Wendell, New Salem and Warwick are among the Franklin County towns that have been known to hold regular Old Home Days.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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