The Marion Town Party had been an end-of-summer celebration for more years than anyone can remember until the last two years. In 2019, because of the threat posed by the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus and last summer by COVID-19, the party was cancelled.
But on August 28, as cool shore breezes made being outside comfortable, the community family-friendly party was on, and at a new location that provided scenic views and plenty of room for little ones to run freely as children should – Silvershell Beach.
The town’s primary party planner (one of many hats worn by this town employee), Donna Hemphill, said that originally the VFW hosted the party on its former Route 6 grounds now known as the Cushing Community Center, which serves as headquarters of the Marion Council on Aging and the town’s Recreation Department. Once the property was turned over to the town, another venue was sought for the annual event.
Spring Street in front of the Town House and the surrounding grounds became the new home for the party for a number of years, but this year it moved again, this time to Silvershell Beach where parking and safe open spaces are aplenty.
Supporting the event were a number of local businesses as well as non-profits such as the Boy Scouts, the Volunteers at Sippican Elementary (VASE), and the MMR recruitment program for the Tri-Town fire departments.
“We are delighted to continue this tradition,” said Hemphill as a group of tiny tots went racing by on their way to the next exciting activity. “It’s a celebration of the end of summer,” and kids going back to school, she chuckled. “This year it’s extra special.”
The event was free of charge with the exceptions of food and drink of which the grounds were awash, and the party featured carnival-type games for small children and their willing parents. But it was the rock wall which saw the most action and longest lines.
In the center of the grassed space were row upon row of family-style tables and chairs where hungers were quenched with hot dogs, hamburgers, and even scallops. Grill master and Town Administrator Jay McGrail was delighted to be grooving to the music blasting from the nearby DJ tent and cooking up meats for the partygoers.
“I had heard about this great town party, but in the three years I’ve been here this is the first time I could actually participate,” said McGrail, punctuating what he believes is a truism: “Marion is an amazing town.” Turning to look out at the several hundred people enjoying the party atmosphere, he added, “Things like this make it amazing.”
The chorus of praise included the following comments from Chairman of the Select Board Norman Hills: “I’m glad to see it come back! …Seeing all the people show up, having a good time, getting something to eat – it’s great.”
Surrounding the perimeter of the lawn were several non-profit organizations geared towards helping young people explore their full potential as well as having fun. The Boy Scouts of America, slowly rebranding to simply Scouting, were popping up buckets of corn, filling the air with mouthwatering aromas, and engaging youngsters who stopped by to learn more.
The members of VASE spoke to attendees about volunteer opportunities at the Sippican School. Their new slogan, “Give 2 in 21-22,” stands for their quest to get as many parents and interested others involved with school programs for as little as two hours per school year.
And last but not least was the MMR (Marion, Mattapoisett, Rochester) Fire Department Recruitment program which provides training to high schoolers interested in learning more about fire service opportunities and the possibility of joining the ranks of those who serve. Handling questions and sharing their personal stories of what the program has meant to them were Domenic Fringuelli, Jaden Soares, and Paetyn Tripp.
With her clipboard firmly at her side, Hemphill was making notes for next year’s party – so, fingers crossed. If it can be planned, there is no doubt it will be planned.
Hemphill expressed her gratitude to the many people who pulled together to make the 2021 event a great one, especially Brooks Wilson, Kristen Saint Don-Campbell, Terri Santos, and Jody Dickerson. She also thanked the Department of Public Works and Marion Fire Department.