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Topsham gears up for year-long 250th celebration

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Topsham gears up for year-long 250th celebration

TOPSHAM — Ten months remain until the start of 2014, but planning for a year's worth of 250th town anniversary celebrations have been underway for months and will continue to ramp up throughout this year.

While Topsham celebrated its 200th anniversary as an incorporated town in July 1964 with a three-day event, the plan is to stretch this milestone across all 12 months next year, starting with a bonfire at the Fairgrounds on Dec. 31.

Steve Edmondson and Mike Labee, co-chairmen of the steering committee organizing the celebration, have been getting the word out. They said they hope residents, organizations, clubs and other groups wanting to host or sponsor events can start planning under the umbrella of the committee, with a master list ultimately advertising all the year's events.

"We encourage any organization that has an event or wants to do an event to contact us," Edmondson said on Tuesday.

People and groups with ideas or who would like to get in touch with the committee, share ideas or help out with the year's events can log onto topshammaine.com/250.

"This entire year – the extent, the number and type of activities – is really going to be based on what the ... people and organizations are willing to do," Edmondson said. "The steering committee (is) not geared to make these things up, and make them happen. We're sort of the coordinator of events. ... This celebration is going to be as big as the town of Topsham is willing to put out."

Edmondson, a history buff and former selectman who has long genealogical roots in the area,  said event dates have yet to be set. But among activities planned are a series of history lectures throughout the year at the Topsham Public Library.

Each month will feature a specific point of Topsham's history; Edmondson plans to discuss the 18th century Scotch-Irish settlers of the town, which include his ancestors.

A local historian will also lead walks through Topsham older cemeteries throughout the summer. A walk through Topsham's historic district is also in the works, "and we're hoping that some of the people that occupy those homes will open their doors and let people come in for tours," Edmondson said.

The Pejepscot Historical Society, on Park Row in Brunswick, will dedicate one of its front rooms throughout 2014 to the history of Topsham, Edmondson said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.