My 375th Anniversary Memories – LC

by Lisa Calderone

When I first spotted the call for volunteers for Guilford’s 375th anniversary in the Guilford Courier, I thought it would be a fun way to get to know my town and neighbors better. The Town may have been 375 years old to others, but it was new to me. I had been living in Guilford 5 years but commuted 4 of them to Fairfield every day, so was just starting to settle in on a different level. Veronica’s request for help with the website and Brian’s invitation to join the Committee meetings couldn’t have come at a better time on my end.

Today I know more about the history of Guilford than any other town I’ve ever lived in – as well as the pulse and promise of its people. And I think maybe (still maybe!) I may have found my home to stay.

[easy-media med=”1357″ align=”right”]I’ll admit it doesn’t take much to charm this cockeyed optimist from New York – I’ve been a fan of the New England countryside since my sister and I first started exploring B&B’s together in the 1980′s. But for me, the beauty and intrigue of Guilford’s landscape is now matched by its residents, whose commitment, creativity, and gratitude for their town seem to know no bounds. I witnessed this first at the Guilford Generations Jubilee, when hundreds if not over a thousand participants poured through the streets in and around the Green to pay tribute. There were heartfelt concerts in the churches, cross-cultural dance lessons in the Community Center, a 2-barrel bonfire warming the chill in the air on the Green, and a grand display of fireworks to top off the ushering in of Guilford’s 375th anniversary year.

I’ve been to many a town gathering in many a town I’ve lived in, but nothing ever quite like this! The last time I had felt such transcending community spirit was in 1976, when my family joined America’s July 4th bicentennial celebration in Manhattan and the streets were overrun by a proud and unified people marching and singing to patriotic songs. The Generations Jubilee hit that same “high” note for me.

From the Generations Jubilee, 2014 ticked off one 375th Anniversary event after the other. While I didn’t attend all of the year’s events, I was struck by the scope and depth of them all – and the warmth and joyful zest of the organizers and volunteers – as I loaded the website with photos and promo material. The other show-stopper for me was Guilford and the Civil War that was also held on and around the Green and sprung forth such originality in its commemoration and applause for 1860′s Guilford and its heroes. Playwright Toby Armour’s series of original 10-minute plays depicting Guilford’s civil war soldiers were particularly powerful and poignant.


I am grateful for the happy task of getting to know who and what makes Guilford tick so strong and proud and healthy as its 375th year turns the bend. From the Crystal Ball to the Covenant Stone Dedication, from the New England Trail Dedication to the Interfaith Service of Gratitude and the Citizen’s Day Parade – and from the 160+ stories, photos, comments, ideas, requests for reunions, and volunteer offerings that poured through the Guilford@375 website – a choir of Guilford residents have been singing their love songs to Guilford throughout 2014.

And I’ve watched, and listened, and learned.

I may have moved to Guilford for its schools and the particular backyard my husband and I bought with our property in 2007. But if I stay, it’ll be for reasons far more enduring.

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