With heart and soul, Rockport celebrated its 125th anniversary as a Town last weekend, with events spread from Opera House gatherings to the stage at Camden-Rockport Elementary School, to the Arch on Union Street and the Masonic Hall on Main Street.
It was a blast, and it was memorable. Longtime citizens shared their stories of growing up in a community where kids once sledded down Beech Hill all the way to Ingraham's Store, near the harbor. Where Granville Ames remembers being a delivery boy and getting roses to Betty Bohndell, and she, now 94, remembers hunting in the woods with her father-in-law; a town where Carleton Farley remembered names of his Rockport High School students from 50 years ago, and Herb Annis recalled saving the Opera House from burning down.
Townspeople sat on stage of that Opera House in comfortable and colorful armchairs (on loan from the Samoset Resort), recounting the history of a town with agricultural and maritime roots, a one-time industrial hub, and now a hot spot for creative, innovative and academic enterprises.
Town officials and politicians delivered remarks, and Camden Select Board members even showed up to congratulate their sister town for reaching the grand old age of 125 (while Camden, this year is noting its own 225 years as a town).
When Camden and Rockport split, there was little goodwill toward each other. Reuel Robinson wrote in his book, History of Camden and Rockport, that “sectional feelings ran high and sectional virulence became so acute that for a time it was hardly safe for a Rockport man to favor the proposition to ‘divide’ or a Camden man to oppose it.”
Those days are long over, and the towns are working together like never before, sharing visions – and sharing costs – in innovative ways.
Rockport celebrated its township, its community, but even more importantly, a sense of place. As Granville Ames recounted, no matter where in the world he traveled, he always came home to Rockport. And as Sen. Dave Miramant and Angus King pointed out, people across the globe know about Rockport, Maine. It's just that kind of place.
The Rockport 125th Committee thanks multiple businesses and individuals for making the Feb. 25-27 celebratory events possible. The contributions and donations have been generous, reflecting a kind and caring community. It is an effort that will continue this coming summer with a Firefighters' Ball, parade, Goose River Bridge dinner, music, art, film festival and more.
Mark your calendars for July 29-Aug. 7, and plan to have fun in Rockport.
The 125th Committee meets every Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Rockport Town Office. Help with visioning, organizing and executing the summer events is more than welcome. Visit Facebook.com/Rockport125, or call 236-9648, and join the party!
The Rockport 125th Committee: Lynda Clancy, Linda Greenlaw, Michelle Hannan, Stacey Parra, Allyson Poutasse, Connie Russell