Like high school graduation, the party began after the speeches.
After State Rep. Simon Cataldo (D-Concord) and Sen. Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) announced October 1 as Concord Free Public Library Day in a proclamation from the legislature; and John Boynton spoke as Ralph Waldo Emerson on the steps of the Town House; and Select Board Chairman Henry Dane read another proclamation asking “all who hear this Proclamation to join with us in the celebration of its 150 years of dedicated service to our community.”
It was then that police closed Monument Square to traffic and the Concord Minute Men, tooting fifes and beating drums, led a parade of hundreds, some in strollers and wheelchairs, some with pets in tow, down Main Street to the historic library building that opened on Oct. 1, 1873.
It was on the steps that Matt Boger, a member of the volunteer Friends of the Library board, flung his arms wide and yelled “Happy Birthday” as loud as he could, that the party got underway.
Lining the path to the front door, festooned with flowers fashioned after those at the original dedication, the library Friends manned tables offering temporary tattoos, custom pins and coloring pages to scores of children.
The high school pep band played pop hits as young and old rocked to the music.
“We came to celebrate with our kids,” said John Jaddou and Paul Defina.
Sadie Constable, 15, brought her dog, Birdie. “It’s a great community space,” she said. “I love reading, and the teen room is an amazing place to get together.”
Lee Mulhall was there with her daughter, Elizabeth. “I love everything,” she said. “It’s my second home.”
The post office got in on the action with a commemorative postmark to be used October 1. Postal Supervisor Joshua Medero handed out postcards for people to fill out and be sent with the unique Concord Library stamp.
“It’s great to see the appreciation of the public library,” said Medero. “We are happy to be a part of it.”
Library staffer Caroline Nie called the party “epic.”
The Friends of the library sliced up a giant three-layer birthday cake and lemonade for the crowd.
In his remarks at the Town House, Dane noted that the library was built with funds from William Munroe and dedicated by Emerson. He said the building houses around 750,000 volumes of books and media and has some 350,000 visitors annually.
Library trustee John Boynton, as Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Jan Turnquist as Louisa May Alcott, share a laugh after Boynton’s re-enactment of Emerson’s original library dedication speech during Concord Free Public Library’s 150th Anniversary Celebration. At right, library director Emily Smith shakes hands with “Ralph Waldo Emerson.”