2018-08-09 / Around Town

Middletown’s ‘275th’ Finalized

By Christopher Allen

Middletown’s 275th anniversary celebration of its independence from Newport will be all about family fun, jubilance and a focus on history as it marks the progression of a town that began as a sleepy agricultural hub and is now riding a development wave.

The festivities are planned for Saturday, Aug. 18, beginning at 11 a.m. in Paradise Valley Park, and they won’t end until late in the evening at Sachuest Beach.

“We are excited to put this together for the people of Middletown and expect this to be an awesome event,” said Kerry Seibert, a member of the Founders' Day 275 Committee. “It’s a great opportunity for us to give back to the community. A fun-filled day and night for friends and families to see where we came from and where we are going.”

Will Cronin, manager of Facilities and Operations for Middletown, said the plans for the evening at Sachuest are coming together, in what town officials are describing as an evening at the popular beach that will stand out from the usual bustling summer days and relatively quiet nights.

Seibert told Newport This Week that the final details would be made official when the committee rubber-stamped plans at their last vote, which took place on August 8.

“There is a ton of stuff going on,” she said. “… we have to vote on it as a committee.”

The celebration is expected to include a planned production by a division of the United States Navy band to kick off the day at Paradise Valley Park, and a free performance during the evening on the beach by the Ben O’Connor

Band, culminating in a fireworks display.

Statewide politicians expected to attend are U.S. senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Governor Gina Raimondo and Representative David Cicilline.

In addition, the local unit of the Rhode Island National Guard, 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces, will be at Paradise Valley Park to speak and provide a rock-climbing exhibit. Their camp is based in Middletown at Airpark Access Road.

“It’s cool to have them there, they’re our hometown boys right out of Middletown,” Middletown Town Council President Robert Sylvia said.

There will also be appearances by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and the First Rhode Island Light Artillery.

Multiple vendors will have food trucks on site, both at the beach and Paradise Valley Park. There will also be demonstrations from the Newport Artillery Company and the annual Founder’s Day running of the historic Boyd’s Lane grist mill, one of the last surviving mills on Aquidneck Island.

Cronin said that because of ordinances determining safety precautions for fireworks displays, parking on Saturday during the day will be limited and sections of Sachuest Beach will be inaccessible.

The original three-page town charter will be on display at the Paradise schoolhouse from noon to 1 p.m. The document will be escorted by Rhode Island State Police from the archives in Providence.

For more information, to volunteer or to donate to the event, call Seibert at 401-855-0885 or email mzkerry@aol.com.

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