After many months of planning the Lake Champlain Bridge Community (LCBC) will host its two-day Grand Celebration which celebrates the re-opening of the Lake Champlain Bridge and the re-connected New York and Vermont communities that surround it. The bridge re-opened to traffic on November 7, 2011, but the celebration was postponed until now.
The Grand Celebration will take place on Saturday and Sunday, May 19 and 20. Saturday’s events begin at 9 a.m. with an opening ceremony and end at approximately 10 p.m. after a street dance. Sunday’s events begin at 6 a.m. with a sunrise ecumenical service and close with a fireworks show at dusk. All events will take place at or near the Chimney Point State Historic Site, Addison, Vermont and the Crown Point State Historic Site, Crown Point, New York. All of the weekend’s events are free and will take place rain or shine.
Lorraine Franklin, co-chair of LCBC, said “It’s taken more than a year of planning and hard work by hundreds of dedicated people, and we hope to have an event unlike any other seen in this area.”
A schedule of events is available at LCBC’s website. A more detailed schedule, including times of musical and entertainment performances, will be available in the official event program. The program, published by The Addison Independent, will be for sale in advance and during the celebration weekend at a cost of $3/each. Proceeds from program sales will help defray the cost of the event.
The weekend kicks off with an opening ceremony at 9 a.m. at Crown Point State Historic Site (NY). Theodore (Ted) Zoli, PE, National Director of Long-Span Bridges for HNTB Corporation is the bridge’s designer and will be the keynote speaker. Several other dignitaries and representatives from federal, state and local governments and agencies will be in attendance and available for a meet & greet with the public immediately after the ceremony.
Two of the weekend’s highlights are parades—one across the Lake Champlain Bridge and one underneath it on the water. The Old Time Hometown Grand Parade (pedestrians and autos) will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday and move from Vermont to New York. The bridge will be closed to traffic during this time—approximately 60 to 90 minutes. There are currently more than 120 parade participants and some examples of the types of floats attendees will see include the original float that was in the parade that celebrated the 1929 opening as well as floats provided by the Vermont Historic Sites consisting of Chimney Point, Mount Independence w/ Fife & Drum Corp, Hubbardton Battlefield, Old Constitution House, Bennington Battle Monument and the Vermont State House. Total entrants into the parade are approximately 120 floats and vehicles.
Attendees will see many vintage vehicles in the parade—some dating from 1929 when the first Lake Champlain Bridge was opened and dedicated. Riding in the cars will be several guests who were present at the 1929 opening. These people have been dubbed “the 29ers”, and organizers expect more than 25 of them will participate in the 2012 celebration. A private reception for the 29ers is planned during the weekend to honor their attendance at both events.
Featuring many types of vessels, and led by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s schooner Lois McClure, there will be a boat flotilla that travels underneath the bridge. Formation will start at 12:30 p.m. and the flotilla will begin under the bridge at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The direction of boat traffic (north to south/south to north) will depend on prevailing winds. There is detailed information on joining the flotilla on LCBC’s website under the Celebration Events section.
Saturday’s activities will close with a street dance featuring Rick and the Ramblers. The dance will begin at 7 p.m. at the Crown Point State Historic Site (NY) and will be preceded by a dance across the bridge starting from Vermont’s Chimney Point State Historic Site at 6:30 p.m.
Sunday’s activities begin with a sunrise ecumenical service, beginning at 6 a.m. Services are on either side of the Lake Champlain Bridge and all will join at the center of the after the ceremony in a symbol of reunification.
At 3 p.m. on Sunday there will be a 5 kilometer fun run that starts and finishes at the Crown Point State Historic Site (NY) and includes a historic run over the new bridge. More details can be found at La Chute Road Runners’ website.
The weekend’s events will wrap up with a closing ceremony at the Chimney Point State Historic Site (VT) featuring Carol Reed of the French Canadian group Va et Vient and the Lake Champlain Waldorf School Dancers.
At dusk (approximately 8:30 p.m.) is the grand finale—the Lights on the Lake Fireworks Spectacular. The fireworks show is provided by Alonzo Fireworks based in Albany, NY and will be simulcast by WVTK 92.1. The firework’s soundtrack is provided by UNIR1 Network. In order to hear the music soundtrack accompanying the fireworks, attendees must have FM radio reception—MP3 players, boom box, or car radio. iPhones will have a few seconds’ delay in reception.
Both Saturday and Sunday
There are more than 50 crafters, food vendors, and non-profit agencies that will be exhibiting, educating and selling their products and services. Crafter and vendor booths will be set up underneath large tents on both sides of Lake Champlain. Food vendors will be located at The Bridge Restaurant on the Vermont side, and a wine tasting tent is located at Cottonwood on Lake Champlain, a Victorian house located at the foot of the bridge on the Vermont side, across the road from Chimney Point State Park. A complete list of crafters and vendors can be found on LCBC’s website, under Celebration Events, or in the official event program. Booths are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days.
Throughout the weekend there is a non-stop line up of performers, musicians and dancers. Performances will be held at both state historic sites and a detailed schedule will be available in the official event program.
A vintage car show will be held both days at the Crown Point State Historic Site (NY). The show will be open 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Hosted by the Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts, there will be as many as 50 cars participating—including, but not limited to the vintage vehicles that participated in Saturday’s parade across the bridge.
After a two year closure to accommodate the construction of the water ferries and bridge, the Chimney Point Historic Site (VT) re-opens the weekend of May 19-20th as well. There are many activities planned on both days to bring to life the 9,000 year history of Chimney Point and the bridge project archeological findings. Enjoy a living history encampment, from the Native Americans to the French period and the Revolution, demonstrations of early skills such as stone tool making and spinning, spinning, historic boat replicas on Saturday, and a variety of children’s activities. See the new exhibit with highlights of the archeological discoveries, from the earliest years of Native American presence to the 1731 French fort and 1790s redware pottery.
The parking area will be at the Crown Point (NY) State Historic Site. There will be two shuttle buses that will run continuously during event hours from the New York parking lot, to the New York waterfront, and to the ferry landing in Vermont.
Boat Launch Information
Below is a list of the boat launches available during the weekend.
· McCuen Slang, Rte. 125, Addison, VT
· Port Henry Boat Launch, Port Henry, NY
· NYSDEC Boat Launch, Ticonderoga, NY
· Van Slooten Marina, Port Henry, NY
· Champlain Bridge Marina, West Addison, VT
Boat launches at Chimney Point State Historic Site, VT and Crown Point State Reservation Campground, NY will be closed during the weekend
An online auction is being held in conjunction with the event. More than 20 items have been donated by local businesses and artists. Proceeds from the auction will help underwrite the cost of the weekend’s activities. Items can be viewed and bid on at www.biddingforgood.com/accoc. The auction closes at midnight on May 15th.
There is an official limited edition LCBC Grand Celebration commemorative T-shirt that’s being sold only during the celebration weekend. The shirt was designed and manufactured by East Coast Printers. The all-over design is dyed into the fabric and features renderings and opening dates of both the old and new bridge. Selling price is $20, with all profits helping to fund the celebration. Adult sizes only.
About the Lake Champlain Bridge Community
Members of the Lake Champlain Bridge Community include area residents, representatives from local business, historical sites, local governments, and chambers of commerce. The Community can be found on the web at www.champlainbridgecommunity.org.