, Newburyport, MA

August 2, 2013

Homecoming a week not to be missed

Newburyport Daily News

---- — Newburyport’s Yankee Homecoming is in full swing right now and heading into its big-bang final weekend. It’s a good opportunity for people throughout the region to come to the city and enjoy what it has to offer.

The downtown streets are filled with music, ranging from established bands on the big stages to talented teenagers playing their hearts out on park benches. Good food can be found at every corner and on every street, particularly in Market Square. There are plenty of things to buy, interesting sights to see, fun things to watch or do, old friends to reconnect with and plenty of people-watching to be done. Add in Saturday’s fireworks and Sunday’s parade on High Street, and the best is yet to come.

Yankee Homecoming, which began in the city’s down-and-out days of the 1950s, is still going strong. It has outlived all the other Yankee Homecomings that at one time flourished in cities throughout New England. In the 1950s, Homecoming was intended to draw people to a downtown that was largely neglected and avoided. Today, the downtown is revived and beloved, and Yankee Homecoming still fills its niche.

The traditional events such as Olde Fashioned Sunday, the Lions Club bed race and road race, the evening waterfront concerts, sidewalk sales, craft fair and many other events continue to draw big crowds. New events are added regularly, like the Coastal Trails Coalition’s slow bike race and the battle of the bands. They add some new flavor and variety.

Homecoming has had a particularly good run this year, due in large part to the very agreeable weather. There’s been virtually no rain, and temperatures have stayed in the comfortable range of mid-70s to mid-80s. The weather is expected to remain dry and in the 70s through the weekend. That’s a welcome departure from past years that have seen monsoon rains or oppressive humidity, and sometimes both.

Thousands of people have been enjoying Homecoming. They owe a nod of thanks to the Yankee Homecoming Committee and the 200 or so volunteers who make it all happen. This is a nonprofit Newburyport group that manages to pull off an enormous amount of organizing and coordination. It can be like herding cats at times, but it all seems to work out in the end.

There are a number of people in Newburyport who get out of town this week, specifically to avoid Yankee Homecoming. That’s certainly their right, but we think they are missing something special that a lot of communities lack.

There’s nowhere else in this region that can pull off such a large and well-produced community gathering. Yankee Homecoming brings people together to have fun, to reconnect and to enjoy this beautiful city in all its glory. What could be better than that?