by John M. Curtin
The first day in June will mark 200 years since the Town of Porter was founded. In commemoration of its bicentennial, the town has a lineup of events for the weekend of Friday, June 1, through Sunday, June 3, that will have something for everyone to enjoy.
"The first town meeting for Porter was actually in April of 1812," says Sue Dietz, the town historian.
According to Dietz, the Town of Porter was formed from Cambria in 1812 by an act of the New York State Legislature. What was once a population of merely 148 people in 1814 has grown over the past two decades to approximately 7,000.
"It's a common misconception that Old Fort Niagara is in Youngstown. Although the mailing address is Youngstown because one post office covers the entire area, the fort is actually in Porter. So Porter was very important in the War of 1812. The town literally grew up around the Fort," says Dietz.
Prior to the weekend's festivities, adults have the chance to win a brand-new GPS through a scavenger hunt running from Wednesday, May 30, until Saturday, June 2. Those who are interested can go to the Town Hall on Wednesday to get a GPS device on loan. With it, during the next few days, they can use the GPS to find different locations, where small treasure containers will be ready for pick-up.
"Whoever finds all the containers, and wins the contest will win a new GPS device - and it's a pretty nice one, too!" says Dietz.
Festivities will be held at the Porter on the Lake Park on Dietz Road in the town, beginning Friday with food and drink at 5 p.m. During dinner, visitors can enjoy entertainment from the Celtic Circle Ceilidh Band along with several of the MacKenzie Highlanders. After that, an hour-long formal ceremony will take place at 7 p.m. Featured will be: presentation of the U.S. flag; the color guard by ROTC students, an invocation followed by a town proclamation, a dance performance of native Tuscaroras, a performance of a patriotic song performed by Lewiston-Porter students, a gun salute by Old Fort Niagara soldiers, greetings of local government officials and more. The night will come to an end with family square dancing until 10 p.m.
With Saturday comes an even larger event schedule with the "Taste of Porter" beginning at noon. An opening ceremony will be held at 12:30 p.m. with an introduction of Porter's oldest area residents. The Lewiston Choraleers will perform from 1 to 2 p.m.
There will then be a presentation of the Historical Pageant celebrating 200 years of Porter's history at 2 p.m., continuing for the hour.
From 3 p.m. onward, games and prizes for the family will commence, with activities continuing throughout the evening, including a petting zoo, bounce house, pony rides, popcorn, a fire truck display, an ice cream social and music featuring the Jerry Andres Band from 8 to 11 p.m. The public is encouraged to bring their blankets and lawn chairs for Saturday's finale of fireworks at dusk.
An early start is planned on Sunday with an ecumenical service led by the Rev. Rex Stewart, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown, at 8 a.m. Following will be a community breakfast prepared by Youngstown's and Ransomville's Lions clubs at 9 a.m. and a retiring of the flag at 10 a.m.
From 1 to 4 p.m., the Ransomville Preservation Room will open for the public; the Porter Historical Museum will stage a grand reopening and display of new exhibits; and area churches will open their doors, including First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown, St. John's Lutheran of Youngstown and Ransomville Baptist Church.
The bicentennial celebration will conclude with a guided walking tour in Youngstown at 2 p.m.
"We're doing it rain, snow or sunshine!" says Dietz.
There is no admission for the event and local Boy Scouts will be on hand to direct parking for visitors at Porter on the Lake.
With lead sponsorship by the Town of Porter and Waste Management, this celebration also sees the involvement of a number of level sponsors in the community. These include:
•Major - Bandanas; CRA Infrastructure and Engineering; Crown Benefits Group Inc.; First Niagara; Mark Cerrone Inc.; Mike Dowd Attorney at Law; Modern Disposal; Niagara County and Sentrex Security Systems.
•Augustus Porter - Beau Designs; Brown and Company CPAs; D.T. Truesdell Trucking; Dan and Lucy Wilson Realty; Hardison Funeral Homes; J.F. Machine Co. Inc.; Ken Young Paving; Ki-Po Chevrolet; Lewiston Computer Services; St. John's Lutheran Church; Lake Ontario VFW Post 313 and the Wendel Companies.
•John Lloyd - O'Connor Family Greenhouses; Operating Engineers Local 463; Ray's Tavern; St. Bernard's R. C. Church; Tim Hortons and Victoria's Family Hair Care.
•Gideon Curtiss - Casey's Malt Shoppe; Dave Webb Concrete Inc.; Jay Electric Inc.; Lawntree Landscaping; Ransomville Bus Lines Inc.; Ransomville Historical Room; Ransomville Manor and RCR Yachts Inc.
With long-term AccuWeather forecasts showing 70-plus degree temperatures and favorable weather, this event is sure to be a great family-fun early summer affair. The full schedule of events and details can be found at: http://www.townofporter.net.