By Jennifer L. Warren
BEACON – Children laughing and tossing a football, other youth clad in their school sport’s or club’s navy blue and white Bulldog attire interacting as they eagerly await marching in the Parade, neighbors energetically chatting about the latest area happenings, a varying contingent of dogs, wagging their tales while playing with one another. This late September afternoon scene and much, much more was on full display throughout Main Street Sunday afternoon, as the Spirit of Beacon Day once again returned to the City as they reveled in its pride, community and diversity.
Created in 1977, the long-standing, extremely popular community event carries the mission of bringing the City together, particularly the youth, while stressing the importance of everyone getting to know one another and enjoying food, education and entertainment.
Forty-five years later, that mission appeared to be going strong, as hundreds of people flooded the City’s Main Street strip, listening to music, viewing an elaborate, colorful parade, taking advantage of special business offerings, and visiting an eclectic mix of vendors as well as pop-up experiences. One of those options was at the Veterans Place, featuring, Beacon Performing Arts and School of Rock Band. Another was over at the Howland Cultural Center, where there was a Discovery Concert, extended Gallery Hours, and a People Make it Happen exhibit. Meanwhile, Cross Street was providing melodious sounds from Beacon Rising Women’s Choir and Beacon Music Factory students. Everywhere you looked, something was happening, creating what many dubbed an authentic, nostalgic, much-welcomed vibe.
“It feels very retro and old school-all in a great way- out here today,” said City of Beacon resident Preston Dennard, who was enjoying the Parade, while taking shelter from a short rain shower over by the Mobil Station with his two children and wife, eagerly awaiting seeing his other child marching with his football team. “It’s wonderful to see people with their phones and technology put away and focusing on everything around them as well as each other.”
Not only was the original mission of bringing the City’s people together in full bloom Sunday afternoon, but so too was the mixing of different cultures, something many commented upon, adding to the days’ overall offerings and flair. People from all backgrounds could be spotted positively mingling while learning from one another’s unique gifts.
“I’ve been coming to the Spirit of Beacon Day for a long time, and it’s always been a great thing to see the mix of people here,” pointed out Wanda Ramirez, a representative from Fidelis, who was providing critical information as well as products from behind her health agency vendor booth. “It’s especially important to see all of this after COVID and people not being able to get out for so long.”
Each year since its inception the Spirit of Beacon Day has continued to grow its numbers and diversity of those in attendance, vendors, size of its Parade and more. One trademark that has always remained is its commitment to the original intent: to bring the people together, something deemed critically essential by the Spirit of Beacon pioneers who convened at the Howland Library 45 years ago.
“More than anything, this day brings out the community, allowing the people to really mingle with one another,” said Ron Donofrio, a real estate broker with Daniel Aubry Realty, who was selling, specially-priced insignia- filled Spirit of Beacon Day tee-shirts and sweatshirts outside of the 192 Main Street business. “It’s a day to say hello to one another and take pride in the community.”
And the day offered still more priceless gems worthy of much gratitude, especially in the wake of the recent challenges the City of Beacon as well as the world has faced the past couple of years.
“After two years of Pandemic lockdown, the Spirit of Beacon Day was exactly what the community needed,” said Joe Waring, a volunteer for the Spirit of Beacon Day. “Today brought everyone together to celebrate all things Beacon, especially the people who have chosen to make it their home.” Reflecting further he added, “The organizers who worked tirelessly on this deserve a round of applause for giving Beacon a chance to breathe together again.”