NORTH SMITHFIELD – A celebration marking the 150th anniversary of the day North Smithfield became an independent town may not be quite what planners had originally hoped – but at least there will be cake.
Parks & Recreation Program Coordinator Kate Pasquariello has announced a virtual party for the town’s birthday next week, and is asking residents to celebrate at home by making cards, and eating cake or cupcakes – including some special ones purchased from one of North Smithfield’s most well-known institutions.
A brief ceremony next week will include a few words from local officials – live streamed to avoid crowds – followed by cake-cutting.
“It’s not going to be anything elaborate,” Pasquariello said.
Organizers are hopeful that the virtual party will be just the first event to mark the landmark anniversary, with more in store for residents as restrictions aimed at controlling COVID-19 ease up later in the year.
It will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 24, the day North Smithfield broke off from Smithfield and became an independent municipality in 1871.
Initially, Pasquariello was working with members of the North Smithfield Heritage Association to plan a much larger event, but it remains unclear if town officials will be able to pull off additional festivities this year.
Past landmark anniversaries have been well-celebrated in town, with events including a ball, a parade and a pageant marking the centennial in 1971; and a gala and a heritage fair marking the 125th birthday in 2019.
“Who knows what the rest of the year will bring?” said Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski. “Hopefully we can have more celebrations.”
Zwolenski noted that officials are discussing the possibility of hosting concerts this summer in the area behind the new Town Hall that once held a ball field.
But with vaccinations still slowly rolling out, “people may still be leery,” Zwolenski noted, while remaining optimistic.
“Doing the best with what we have, I think we’re going to have multiple, memorable events,” he said.
The NSHA also has potential events in the making, and is working on a 150th anniversary Christmas ornament and write up of town history covering the last 50 years.
For now, it seems, organizers will have to wait to see if gathering to celebrate North Smithfield the old fashioned way – in person with friends and neighbors – will be possible.
Pasquariello has invited just a small group to the March 24 event, and Sen. Jessica de la Cruz and Rep. Brian Newberry have agreed to attend, along with members of the Town Council, and Parks & Recreation Commission.
Residents are encourage to join the sesquicentennial party from home and enjoy their own cake, and the creative bakers at Wright’s Dairy Farm & Bakery have created a special, limited edition cupcake to help with the mission. The bakery is donating a cake for the town’s celebration, with separate cakes planned for the North Smithfield Police Department, North Smithfield Fire and Rescue and the Department of Public Works.
For customers, Wright’s co-owner Ellen Puccetti has created a decorative vanilla cake with fudge filling and butter cream frosting for the occasion. Those not inclined to bake their own cake at home are encouraged to purchase the special, limited edition treats, which will be available at the bakery from March 16 through 31 for $2.99 a piece.
“We created a custom edible decoration on top and we are using green and gold accent colors,” said Puccetti. “We are glad to be part of one of the many events planned this year.”
“I saw a draft of the cupcake and it’s amazing,” said Pasquariello. “You don’t even want to eat it.”
“Whether you purchase a cake or make and decorate your own, we’d like as many people as possible to celebrate with us,” she said.
The birthday party will take place starting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 24 , and residents can view the event live via the Parks & Recreation Facebook page. Those watching are encouraged to post photos showing their cake and card creations from parties at home.