The grand opening of the covered bridge in Pepperell reflected the cooperative effort of a community of people motivated and determined to celebrate their heritage, and the achievement of another symbolic wooden covered bridge.
Even Hurricane Earl cooperated and knew better than to disturb this community’s plan to celebrate their covered bridge! A pleasant late-night shower gave way to a grand morning for a grand opening.
The event was widely promoted through the local and regional media, internet sites, local canvassing, cable TV and through personal invitations to our friends in neighboring towns and key officials in state and local government. This effort resulted in many hundreds of people attending, watching muskets fire and re-enactors march to patriotic songs. Citizens with a notable presence in the town cut the ribbon signifying the next era of the covered bridge in Pepperell. Our seniors and the handicapped were with us, many under the care of volunteers who worked together with the committee to ensure their attendance and comfort. The speakers offered compelling messages covering information and sentiments about the community, the covered bridge, Prudence Wright and patriotism.
The authentic re-enactment of “Prudence Wright and The Women Who Guarded The Bridge” drew a hush over the crowd. Real life “daughters” of the American Revolution travelled to Pepperell to join local “daughters” and volunteers in the region who all took part in the re-enactment, making this a special occasion indeed. Antique cars and tractors parading through the bridge, to the boom of musket fire and the uplifting melody of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” was a spectacle met with applause and cheers from the young and old.
Crowds quickly gathered at the town field to watch a second re-enactment on horseback that was sequenced with songs and images of real colonial-day combat. The marketplace of farmers, businesses, local organizations and citizens from the area, was well attended, along with the activities in the Community Center that featured Pepperell history and memorabilia, as well as images related to the covered bridge and Prudence Wright.
Kids proudly displayed their patriotic craftsmanship, donned colorful painted faces, and many wouldn’t leave the treasure filled haystack. The arts and crafts show held in conjunction with the grand opening offered a showcase for the talented artists and handcrafters from Pepperell and the region, plus featured exhibits of Pepperell items that captured the picturesque scenery, historic buildings and a reflection of recognizable images of the town.
A covered bridge grand opening is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many, and the team of people committed to this cause made it a significant moment in Pepperell’s history. Around 150 people participated in the actual day of the event, which was a closely timed production. Among them were the Pepperell Police Department, which did an outstanding job, as did the Pepperell Highway Department and especially Peter Shattuck. Susan Smith, our master of ceremonies, was a dominant contributor in the outcome and deserves many thanks. John Greenwood and the 6th Middlesex Regiment, Paul Keating and the re-enactors were key contributors, as was House Calls Home Care, the Pepperell Music Center, the 4th of July Committee, the Pepperell Free Press, River’s Edge Farm, Nashoba Valley Chorale and David Pease.
Thank you to our speakers, Robert Hargraves, Tony Saboliauskas, Ron Karr and Wendy Cummings, who so eloquently addressed the crowd and who were also involved in other areas of the event as well. All these individuals and so many more are to be commended for working together with the committee to ensure success together.
Standing out among all the contributors are the members of the Covered Bridge Committee, who deserve true accolades for a tremendous job. This was especially evident in the endless details of the last charge to the finish in the final two weeks of production. And then there was Hurricane Earl to contend with and changes put further demands on the committee.
Over 10 months of planning and hard work came from this small group who carried the program through to the end and delivered a special gift to the townspeople and all who attended. The contributors were many and their contributions noteworthy, but the effort of committee members David Babin II, Maureen Desveaux and Joy Henry should be noted by all!
Chairman, Covered Bridge Committee