By Rod Lee
There is nothing that says an already-popular and successful event has to stand on its laurels, even after more than a century in operation.
Rest assured, the town of Charlton’s Old Home Day Committee never falls victim to complacency, Old Home Day Director Kathleen Walker and Vendor Coordinator Heather Clements said by telephone last week.
Old Home Day in Charlton on September 2nd—Labor Day—will be “bigger and better” in 2019 than it was in 2018, they said.
Part of the reason for this is the introduction of still another new twist to the proceedings in the form of a “Family Fun Field Inflatable Park” organized as a fundraiser by the Shepherd Hill Music Parents Association, or SHMPA. This in addition to the usual array of attractions, consisting of an art show, a flower show, booths on the Common, a craft fair, fireworks and a concert, a frog-jumping contest, an adult road race, a kids run, a parade and a soap-box derby.
Established in 1897 to mark the end of harvest season and the onset of winter, Old Home Day in Charlton is arguably Central Massachusetts’ most community-spirited event. As Rosemary Howard put it at her table while waiting for lunch to be served at the Charlton Senior Center the afternoon of August 7th, Old Home Day is “a great gathering of townspeople. We have lived in Charlton for forty-five years and most everything happens right at my front door, at 13 Main St.!”
Terry Salonis, who is vice president of the SHMPA group, said the organization, made up of eleven board members and “about two hundred fifty parents,” is pleased to inject another element to a production that has a long history and that already brims with vitality.
Four large obstacle courses featuring a rock-climbing wall, a bungee tower and a fifty-foot slide will be available for young people to enjoy from early in the morning until about four o’clock in the afternoon, Ms. Salonis said. “Run, jump, bungee and climb all day!” is the way SHMPA is touting the opportunity.
“I kind of cultivated the idea,” Ms. Salonis said. “We hope it’s a big draw.”
One ticket to the event is good for all day “for kids of all ages,” she said.
SHMPA acquired the apparatuses from Mike’s Moonwalk Rentals in Boylston. “They gave us a large discount because we are a nonprofit,” she said. “All proceeds benefit the Music Department at Shepherd Hill. The Marching Band has won a national title for a third year and there are different music groups at the school that we fund. We have a repertoire…we needed to get creative,” she noted, when it comes to other ways to obtain the dollars that are required to keep the program running efficiently.
SHEPA already undertakes such initiatives as a flea market/yard sale, an annual advertising booklet, a Show Choir festival and a winter percussion and guard home show in support of Shepherd Hill Regional High School’s choral and instrumental groups. The Family Fun Field Inflatable Park grows this commitment, Ms. Salonis said.
“I understand too that the Old Home Day Committee is bringing back some of the old games, leg races, potato sack races, relays,” Ms. Salonis said.
“We have a fantastic music group. I have two kids myself who are involved. Al is in the Marching Band and Joe is in the Show Choir.”
In a conference call, Ms. Walker and Ms. Clements of the Old Home Day Committee predicted that “new wrinkles” planned for grounds behind the Charlton Public Library will please those who take advantage of them. A petting zoo—courtesy Fay Mountain Farm—mini golf, a kids race on the Common, kids games including a pie-eating contest, a rope pull, a water balloon toss, horses from Blessing Farms and a bounce house will be a plus, they said.
“That’s the hope,” Ms. Walker said.
Old Home Day in Charlton, she said, occurs in “a family-friendly environment. People can come and they don’t have to spend an exorbitant amount of money to have a good time.”
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.