UTICA — The year 2010 will mark the 200th anniversary of the founding of the village of Utica. Originally known as Wilmington, the village changed its name seven years after its founding, when the population reached 100.
Community members, local businesses, civic organizations and the Utica Historical Society are preparing for the upcoming celebration.
“Each month we are going to have a different program in a different place,” said Lester Grennell, bicentennial committee chairman.
The Masonic Lodge will open up the celebration with a program in January, followed by the local Boy Scout group in February. In March, the historical society will host an event; in April there will be a cemetery tour at North Lawn, the Ice Cream Festival will be in May and the actual bicentennial celebration will be in June.
The Fourth of July celebration, block party and Utica Homecoming Fall Festival will all incorporate programs to promote Utica’s history. October will spotlight the fall harvest with a tour of local farms, and in November, the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War will hold a program. To end the year, the Christmas Walk in December will capture the lifestyle of 21st-century Utica citizens through the placing of artifacts in a time capsule.
“Throughout the year, clues will be given every month for a scavenger hunt,” said Grennell. “And at the Christmas Walk it will end.”
There is no specific theme; the idea is to keep the history alive through programs and festive events.
Grennell, who has lived in Utica all of his life, sees the importance of family heritage and legacy among its citizens.
“From what I can remember as a kid, and things change, my biggest thing was on Sunday you could do nothing because everything was closed,” he said. “You went to church, came home, had dinner and spent time with the family.”
He also recalls the Miller Company, the glass factory and the blacksmith shop that used to be on Main Street — all reminders of years gone by.
“It’s not like it used to be,” Grennell said. “But the biggest thing is, this is a nice little town and for the most part it’s quiet. It’s like a big family, and I think the older people can look back from when we had our 150th anniversary celebration and reminisce of what they did back then.
“There are a lot of second and third generations in this village and [the history] can carry over into the next generation,” he said. “This community is family oriented. To keep contact with the family history is what I think is the important part of this [celebration].”
A full schedule of events will be posted around the village and at the town hall. The next committee meeting will be Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. at the town hall.
The bicentennial logo is available for anyone who would like to use it for a fundraiser, but those interested in doing so are asked to contact the Bicentennial Committee.
“The merchant association is taking the logo and making Christmas ornaments with it that can be purchased during this year’s Christmas Walk,” said Grennell.
The walk is scheduled for Dec. 9.