Sesquicentennial celebration

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By Elio Gugliotti, Editor

Beacon Falls commemorates 150th anniversary

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(Officials and residents commemorated Beacon Falls’ sesquicentennial during the Beacon Falls 150th Anniversary Celebration on June 27 at the firehouse. PHOTOS BY ELIO GUGLIOTTI)

BEACON FALLS — Before U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal celebrated his 39th wedding anniversary June 27, there was one other milestone the two-term senator had to commemorate.

“There are very few events and very few towns and very few people who could provide a legitimate reason for me to say to my wife, Cynthia, ‘I have to be there.’ This is one of them,” said Blumenthal as he addressed the crowd during the Beacon Falls 150th Anniversary Celebration.

Local, state and federal dignitaries came together with a couple hundred residents or so behind the firehouse downtown to celebrate the town’s sesquicentennial.

“Thanks for recognizing the importance of history, of remembering where were from,” Blumenthal said. “No matter how far we go, we are always our history, and that’s why Beacon Falls is so special today.”

The crowd celebrated almost 150 years to the day that the state legislature incorporated Beacon Falls on June 30, 1871, forging the town with land from Bethany, Oxford, Seymour and Naugatuck.

Beacon Falls grew from an agricultural community to an industrial one in its early years with the help of former industrial giants like the Home Woolen Company and the Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Company. With a population of about 6,400 now, the town has settled into a family-oriented, bedroom community.

“I think that it’s vitally important that we all understand not only our national history but our local history,” said Selectman Christopher Bielik, who pointed to the opening of Woodland Regional High School 20 years ago as a catalyst for the town’s more recent growth. “We need to know what kind of community we are, where our roots are, what we’ve come from, so that we know where we’re going in the future.”

Those who took the podium during the celebration spoke of the heart of Beacon Falls, a welcoming place with a hometown feel.

“We work together, we play together, we cry together,” First Selectman Gerard Smith said.

Peter Betkoski, co-chairman of the 150th Anniversary Committee with town historian and Selectman Michael Krenesky, echoed Smith’s sentiments.

“This town has a bond that can never be replaced,” he said.