By Jim Sullivan
---- — Salisbury residents were joined by local and state leaders as they showed off their town pride during the community’s 375th anniversary celebration on Saturday.
Crowds gathered on the Village Green to participate in an afternoon of activities designed to honor the milestone birthday.
“It’s a very big day,” Selectman Freeman Condon said. “You can tell by the turnout and it’s very, very meaningful. If you think about it, the Pilgrims landed in 1620 and we have been here since 1638. So we don’t waste a lot of time.”
The daylong celebration began with speakers offering a brief history of Salisbury, followed by a performance by Bostonia Allarum Fife and Drum Corp. Nearby, the anniversary celebration’s co-chairwoman and president of the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce, Maria Miles watched her and fellow co-chairman Bruce Macdonald’s months of planning and preparations excite the crowd,
“It’s wonderful,” Miles said. “I love Salisbury the way (Boston) mayor (Thomas) Menino loves Boston and Salisbury is headed in the right direction. Our people are wonderful.”
State Rep. Michael Costello, D-Newburyport, who grew up next door in Amesbury, said the community has been a huge part of his life. As a teenager and young adult, he worked at Salisbury Beach.
“I was fortunate enough to grow up with a father who represented Salisbury for about 20 years in the House and the Senate,” he said. “So, I’ve been to every major event (here) in my lifetime. A big piece of who I am was built in these communities. Clearly, I love Salisbury. I still spend my summers down here, and we still take the kids to the beach. It’s changed a little bit but the flavor hasn’t changed.”
Costello also pointed to the town’s role in history.
“You’ve had (General) Lafayette march through here, you’ve had (George) Washington come through here,” he said. “But you’ve also had (Frank) Sinatra here. You had The Rat Pack here. It all happened here at Salisbury Beach.”
Although mindful of the historic significance of the day, state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor-Ives, D-Newburyport, also looked ahead to the community’s future.
“We’re very happy with what is going on in the present in Salisbury,” she said. “I think that all the people who helped to make this day possible are going to be a part of a bright future for the town.”
O’Connor-Ives said that she and Costello are working with town officials to help make Salisbury Beach an optimal year-round destination.
“I don’t think many parts of the state can boast of a shoreline like we have,” O’Connor-Ives said. “Once you visit Salisbury, seeing is believing.”
U.S. Congressman, John Tierney, D-Salem, praised the efforts of town officials and residents to help keep the community growing and flourishing.
“(Miles) and the business community have really pulled it together,” Tierney said. “It’s lifted the town and I think they will take it through to the next phase as well. I think the people who work for the public do a great job. The teachers, the public safety people and the public health people, they often times don’t get the recognition that they should get, and that is what makes a community strong, clean and attractive when other people come in. When tourists are a big part of your economy, those things have got to be clicking.”
Nine-year-old Samuel Nicholson took advantage of the Salisbury Public Library’s open house and learned a bit about his hometown along the way.
“I’ve been living in a very old town that has a lot of history,” Nicholson said. “My favorite part of Salisbury would probably be the library. Because it has so many books and I love to read.”