Concord residents turn out to celebrate 250 years, and look forward to the future

Last modified: Tuesday, August 18, 2015
The 90-degree heat Sunday didn’t stop the hundreds of residents who turned out to celebrate Concord’s 250th anniversary.

People lounging in the grass on Memorial Field cooled off with water and ice cream as they listened to a band play old-time music. Earlier in the afternoon, they lined the streets to watch antique cars, fire trucks, roller derby teams and beauty queens in a parade that wound its way from Rollins Park to Memorial Field.

Gov. Maggie Hassan was still smiling and shaking hands at the end of the parade, even with the sweltering heat. As some residents called out to her and asked her how she was doing, she shrugged off the high temperatures.

“It’s all right, it’s all fun, actually,” Hassan said.

The parade and large gathering on the field capped a full week of celebrations for Concord’s 250th birthday, including the Rock On Music Festival at White Park on Saturday, history walks and tours of different places in the city throughout the week.

It was all to celebrate the history of New Hampshire’s capital city, officially founded in 1765 and becoming the state capital in 1808. A history of the city noted that people flocked to Concord for its fertile farmland along the Merrimack River. The river was a boon to the city, making it an important destination for fishing and transportation.

Concord was originally known as Pennycook (now, Penacook) and was originally settled by Captain Ebenezer Eastman and other colonists from Haverhill, Mass. The name of Concord came in 1765, bestowed upon the city by Gov. Benning Wentworth.

The city was, and is still, known for its gold-domed State House and its extremely large Legislature. New Hampshire’s House of Representatives in Concord boasts 400 elected officials, making it the third-largest legislative body in the English-speaking world, just behind the U.S. House in Washington, D.C., and the British House of Commons in London.

“From my six years as governor, I can testify that Concord’s greatest assets are the everyday people of the city, who are unfailingly gracious and friendly,” said former governor and current U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in a proclamation for the U.S. Congressional Record. “I salute the city’s rich past and present, and I look forward to joining the anniversary celebrations in the near future.”

At a booth at Memorial Field, Concord resident and Time Capsule Committee member Bill Smith was overseeing people submitting their suggestions for what to place in the 2015 time capsule. Many kids were filling out the forms, and Smith said many of the suggestions from younger residents included putting toys in.

The Concord Historical Society is still looking for input, hoping to put a range of items in the capsule that will represent the year 2015 in Concord.

“It’s kind of daunting when you think about it,” Smith said. “That’s the biggest thing, we’re looking for something entertaining.”

(Ella Nilsen can be reached at 369-3322, enilsen@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @ella_nilsen.)