TOWNSEND -- Entertainers will perform in a variety show at the end of the month to raise money for a town gathering spearheaded by longtime resident John Whittemore.
Whittemore, who passed away in September, wanted to host the show to raise money for a town picnic. He envisioned the picnic as an opportunity for all residents to come together and put politics aside, said Carlene Whittemore, his wife.
"He put his heart and soul into the town of Townsend," she said. "I don't think that there was one single day that he didn't have an idea about how to help someone."
The variety show will take place March 25 at Memorial Hall. Singing and musical instrument performances are among the acts expected for the show. A $20 donation per family is suggested to attend.
Town leaders and residents plan to keep the picnic going in John's honor, Carlene said.
John lived in Townsend since 1958 and raised his family in town. He and Carlene were married for 45 years. He worked as a police officer and various committees, boards, and departments in town government.
Carlene recalled how John came home upset after working the polls during last year's town election. He felt that people in town weren't getting along and wanted to find a way to fix that.
They got to work to raise money, reserve the common, and invite residents.
When the day came in August, people brought food and brought machines to make popcorn and ice cream.
"It all just fell into place," she said.
John left the picnic feeling happy that people enjoyed themselves, Carlene said.
The last town picnic was in 1996. It was John's idea to organize it, she said. Hamburgers and hot dogs were less than a dollar. He donated the $200 raised from the event.
This year's picnic is especially important for Townsend after a year of tension, Carlene said.
"You can't always accentuate the negative," she said. "It's got to be the positive."