LONDONDERRY —The town’s biggest summer party and its organizing committee will get a new start with new faces and ideas with a lot of traditional knowledge remaining to help.
A re-organizational meeting of the Old Home Day Committee took place Jan. 16 at Town Hall, gathering a room full of those showing interest in signing up to support a new era of festival planning.
The 2020 Old Home Day is set for Aug. 12-16.
Last year, town officials took a look at the committee and how it might move forward after longtime committee chairman Kathy Wagner stepped down as leader.
Wagner will remain involved to help with the transition, according to Town Manager Kevin Smith.
He said for decades it was a very small number of committed volunteers putting together the five-day summer event.
"And some of these people are looking to step back," Smith said at the recent meeting, "and are looking to turn it over to a new group of individuals."
Old Home Day is made up of many activities, Smith said, including the parade, Town Common booths and games, Senior Night, Kidz Night, fireworks, and much more. Volunteers traditionally take on various specific areas they are interested in working on.
The town will keep some oversight as well, Smith said, as the finances for Old Home Day will come through the finance department.
"But we want to be very much volunteer driven," he said, "but it will have the support of (town) staff."
The committee has a long history.
The Town Council created the Old Home Day Committee in 2001. The committee was charged as a “willing group of volunteers that will represent the Town of Londonderry” and shall “determine its own rules and order of business, unless otherwise provided by law or Town Charter,” according to the minutes of that meeting.
Prior to that, a former Chamber of Commerce handled Old Home Day.
The committee remained a volunteer effort but always had town oversight when it come to handling money collected for booths, sponsorships and other costs.
Smith said moving forward he didn't foresee any major changes in the way Old Home Day was managed and put together, but added there may be some minor tweaks in the process.
Assistant Town Manager Lisa Drabik told prospective volunteers at the meeting that the goal is to transition to a whole new group going into the future, but to remain connected to past volunteers who may continue to support the effort with a lot of institutional knowledge of how things were done.
"The parade is the biggest one," Drabik said. "We are going to need a ton of help with the parade."
Drabik invited meeting attendees to sign up for various sub-committees that interested them. She said a listing of all volunteers and jobs needed would be put together. The town website would also show updates as well as the official Old Home Day site.
Drabik said she appreciated seeing all the new faces and new "blood" that wanted to step up for Old Home Day planning.
Smith said new ideas are always welcome, but added no major changes would be made this year.