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It’s Really Going to be Grand

Attendees will also enjoy plenty of music inspired by the sea and a tent for children’s activities will be available. While these events are free and open to the public, an old-fashioned clambake that will be held in the parking lot abutting the canal, begins at 5 p.m. and costs $50 per person. The location will also serve as a prime viewing spot for a lighted boat parade that will travel down the canal, beginning at 9 p.m.
It’s up, up, and away on Saturday, August 2 and Sunday, August 3 for the Water Street Wing Fling. The transportation-themed event will feature classic cars, kayak rides on Shawme Pond, inflatable moonwalks and bounce houses for children—and tethered balloon rides that will bring courageous participants 50 to 75 feet up in the air. “Because the balloons are tethered, it’s safe, but it’s still quite a thrill,” says Bill Diedering, a member of the 375th committee. “If you have never been on a hot air balloon ride, it really is something to experience.”

There is a certain sense of pride that comes with the designation "Oldest town on Cape Cod" and the citizens of Sandwich take very seriously the obligation of honoring and commemorating their quintessential town’s history.

“This is going to be a great celebratory weekend and the events just smack of hometown Americana,” adds event organizer Tammy McDevitt. The fun continues on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights, August 2-4, when the Los Angeles-based company, Paintscaping, a leader in the world of three-dimensional projection shows, will illuminate images onto the façade of the First Church of Christ on Main Street. “It’s fascinating,” Russell adds, “and people are really going to be amazed.”

On Saturday, June 14, the town will host Heritage Day and the event will recognize and honor the founders and early settlers of Sandwich. The day begins with church bells ringing at 9:30 a.m., followed by a ‘march of the descendants’—which will include descendants of the original founders and settlers who will come to Sandwich to celebrate the town and their family legacy. “We are expecting 300 members of the Wing family to be at this event,” Russell says.

Irving Freeman, a twelfth-generation descendant of Edmund Freeman, one of the ‘Ten Men of Saugus’, plans to take part in the event. Freeman says he takes special pride in being a member of this founding family and credits his mother with teaching her children to honor their heritage. “My mother made sure we knew about our family heritage on both sides,” Freeman says. “She instilled in us a sense of pride in our family. I talk to so many people who don’t know what their heritage is. We were lucky; we kept track of it.”

James Pierce, current chairman of the Sandwich Board of Selectmen, is also proud of his family’s long heritage in the community. A thirteenth-generation descendant of William Basset, one of the town’s earliest settlers, Pierce considers his heritage an important part of his identity. “Pride in my heritage was ingrained in me from an early age,” he says. “It is a part of who I am.”

Though Heritage Day begins with a tribute to the few men and their families who settled the town, it ends with a celebration for all of Sandwich’s families, descendants, and wash-a-shores. Afternoon festivities will be held at Sandwich High School, including a picnic, a cupcake competition, and an all-town photograph shoot. The festivities culminate with a Cape Cod Baseball League game between the Bourne Braves and Falmouth Commodores, which will be held at the high school’s baseball field.

Another event—this one after Labor Day—is a grand parade scheduled for Saturday, September 13. The parade, which travels from the Wing School to Main Street and over to Route 6A, before returning to the school, will begin at 1 p.m. It will include at least ten bands, a drum and bugle corps, bagpipes, floats, classic cars, and even Clydesdale horses. Diedering, who is organizing the parade, says he had to enlarge the parade route to two miles to accommodate all who wanted to be involved. “It’s really going to be grand,” he says.

With a town hall that dates back to 1834, a working gristmill that is nearly as old as the town itself, and a boardwalk that has been named one of the Top 10 of its kind by National Geographic magazine, Sandwich’s history is clearly something to celebrate. Over the past 375 years, the town’s citizens have embraced their history and have demonstrated pride in this community and heritage through various anniversary celebrations.

Perhaps it is their fondness for all things historic, or their devotion to maintaining the quaint charm of their seaside community, but more than likely it is the strong family ties that exist between some citizens living in Sandwich today and those who first settled the area during the 1600s that compels residents to celebrate and pay homage to their town’s birthdays. No matter the motivation, one thing is clear—the citizens of Sandwich know, and have always known, how to throw a great party.

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