Turning 250, Cape kicks off year-long birthday party

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CAPE ELIZABETH — A celebration of the town’s 250th birthday will kick off one year in advance, on Saturday, with a reception at Inn by the Sea, off Shore Road.

Cape’s sestercentennial is Nov. 1, 2015, but will be celebrated throughout the coming year. The Town Council in January approved plans for the celebration and created an anniversary committee to coordinate the festivities. Saturday’s kick-off will provide a preview of everything that’s scheduled.

“It’s like a social gathering for people to learn about what’s happening in the next year,” said Barbara Powers, chairwoman of the anniversary committee.

Inn by the Sea offered to host the event for free; its general manager, Carrie Dyer, serves on the committee. 

“Not only do many of our staff live in Cape, but from a historic perspective, there has been a hospitality business on this site for 85 years,” Dyer said in a press release. “We are proud to have been part of the Cape community for so many decades.”

Saturday’s event will take place from 5-8 p.m. and will feature music and refreshments. Powers said the committee will tell guests about the large events and other groups in town will preview the mini-celebrations they have planned.

“This is really a modest start,” Powers said. “We just want to get on people’s radars.”

The Cape Elizabeth Historical Preservation Society will discuss a timeline of celebratory events including bus tours in the spring, presentations at various historic sites next October, and a variety of open houses. There will also be a description of a multimedia project students at Pond Cove Elementary School are undertaking.

Powers said the year will also feature ice cream socials and pancake breakfasts, and that the committee will participate in the town’s Memorial Day parade. There will be special occasions throughout the year for everyone, she said.

“Some people will really be into the history and others will be like, ‘Yipee! 250 years,'” Powers said.

Either way, residents can learn more about their town, which split off from Portland (then known as Falmouth) in 1765. 

“I think (the celebration) lends to people appreciation of place,” she said. “When people have a better sense of a deep history of an area, they develop stronger bonds with the community.”

While most of the events over the year will be free, some will be ticketed. On July 25, the anniversary committee is partnering with the Fort Williams Foundation to host a concert with the Portland Symphony Orchestra. It’s being called “Night at the Light” and will take place at Fort Williams Park.

The finale of the celebration will be a gala at Inn by the Sea next year.

Powers said she and the seven other committee members think spreading the celebration over 12 months will create a greater understanding of Cape Elizabeth in everyone who attends the events.

“I think they’ll develop a deeper appreciation for the history of this place and have the opportunity to celebrate the community with their neighbors, families and friends,” she said.                      

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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A banner for the town’s 250th anniversary celebration stands in Cape Elizabeth Town Council chambers, where the celebration plans were approved in January. Barbara Powers said additional banners will be unveiled soon.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.