Longtime Yankee Homecoming volunteer named this year's leader

BRYAN EATON/Staff Photo. Yankee Homecoming Chairman Jennifer Duggan wants to bring back the waiter and waitress race.

NEWBURYPORT — In recent decades, Yankee Homecoming has become one of the city’s most well-known and cherished institutions. But with Newburyport attracting scores of new residents over the last few years, this year’s Yankee Homecoming chairwoman, Jennifer Duggan, thought it wise to re-introduce the history and meaning of the nine-day event.

That’s why the Newburyport native and current Amesbury resident chose “Reflections of our Past” as this year’s theme.

“I think it would be great to share the history,” Duggan said. “Why do we do this, why do we take over for a week.”

Duggan succeeds last year’s chairwoman, Maureen Ryan, and will accept the traditional blue jacket from her during Yankee Homecoming’s Olde Fashioned Sunday on July 28.

Duggan, who graduated from Newburyport High School in 1990, has actually been part of Yankee Homecoming for six years — the last three running its parade and for two years before that the Brewfest. Organizers previously asked her to lead Yankee Homecoming but she declined saying the timing wasn’t right. This year, however, it all came together, she added.

“It’s my evolution,” she said.

She defined her role as making sure everyone has everything they need leading up to, during and after Yankee Homecoming.

“When you hear about this event, you want to be a part of it. It’s an honor,” Duggan said.

The 62nd Yankee Homecoming is scheduled for July 27 through Aug. 4 and will feature more than 100 activities and events.

Among the events Duggan said she was especially excited to see is the Waiter/Waitress Race. Scheduled for Monday, July 29, the race pits restaurant staffs against each other in a series of food service-related challenges.

“We’re super excited about that,” Duggan said, adding the event was once part of Yankee Homecoming decades ago and will be making its return this year.

“We have no idea how it’s going to go. I’m hoping it turns into a healthy competition,” Duggan said.

This year’s Yankee Homecoming Parade, which takes place on the last day and draws thousands of spectators, will look and feel a bit different. It will step off at the intersection of Moseley Avenue and Ferry Road near Famous Pizza and end on Federal Street. For most of its 62-year history, the parade ended at March’s Hill near the Newbury border.

Duggan is hoping to add another wrinkle to the parade in the form of flags flying from High Street homes. In recent weeks, she hand delivered 161 letters to High Street homes asking homeowners to purchase Yankee Homecoming flags and then display them during the parade.

Each three-by-five-foot flag costs $50 and features the Yankee Homecoming emblem and colors. All proceeds go towards supporting Yankee Homecoming events. So far, results have been encouraging with many homeowners responding positively, she said.

As Yankee Homecoming inches closer, Duggan suggested residents and out-of-towners thinking about attending check out Yankee Homecoming’s presence on social media and its website. She also asked anyone with old stories, memories or photos to share them with Yankee Homecoming officials.

To “like” Yankee Homecoming on Facebook visit: facebook.com/NewburyportYankeeHomecoming/. Its website is: yankeehomecoming.com. Follow Yankee Homecoming on Twitter @NewburyportYH. To reach Duggan with general questions or to order a flag contact her at: generalchair@yankeehomecoming.com

Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached by email at drogers@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.

Recommended for you