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Hudson~Litchfield News

Volume 21 Number 11 October 1, 2010 16 Pages

Where Dreams Do Come True

by Lynne Ober “Welcome to Hudson, where dreams do come

true,” Selectman Roger Coutu told the audience at the long-awaited grand opening of Benson Park.

After Benson’s closed in 1987 for the final time, the New England environment began to reclaim the park. Vines and brush grew unabated. Buildings deteriorated. Paths were slowly over- grown until the entire area resembled a dense jungle. Today, Benson Park has morphed from a weed-filled, vine-covered area into a beautiful, passive recreation park that retains memories of its days as The Strangest Farm on Earth, while providing a beautiful, serene park for residents. The grand opening day was beautiful. People

came. Some came with kids in strollers and some with dogs on leashes. Some planned to stay and picnic, and others just came to see what had been going on within the park. The sun shone and sparkles were seen on the lake. Chairs were set up on the grassy area across from the A-frame. People chatted and walked around. Gardens are beginning to grow; paths have been cleared and picnic areas established. Already, the bones of a wonderful park are in place, thanks to many volunteer hours. The Alvirne High School Band and Color Guard kicked of the celebration. Marching from the Elephant Barn to the A-frame with Governor John Lynch, Hudson selectmen, and Harry Schibanoff, Chairman of the Benson Committee, at the head of the procession, the band filled the air with music. Alvirne’s B-Naturals sang the Star-Spangled Banner before Schibanoff, who acted as Master of Ceremonies, spoke to the audience.

PMA Fun Fest Event Enjoyed by All

by Tom Tollefson The 15th annual Presentation of Mary Academy Fall Fun Fest was rockin’ outside the school with music, a bounce house, kids’ games, pumpkin decorating, food, a petting zoo, and face painting. The sunny, warm weather made last Saturday a perfect day in Hudson for a festival. “Today’s a gorgeous day.


have four kids and they’re enjoying it very much,” Jamie Heitmiller said as he down at a picnic table soaking up the sun, while one of his children ate a slice of pizza. The annual autumn event has not always had as many kid-oriented activities. “We changed it about four

years ago from a craft fair to a carnival-style fair. It seemed more fun for the kids,” said Chris Thompson, a member of the school’s parent group. Many of those in attendance

have enjoyed the added kid- oriented activities. “There’s a lot of activities

Walking along the lake at Benson Park

too dilapidated to be repaired. He mentioned the work done by the Boy Scouts in repairing some of the structures. The Old Lady in the Shoe is once again a beautiful display, and the ticket booth is currently being rehabbed. Governor Lynch recalled attending Benson’s

Governor John Lynch, Benson Chairman Harry Schibanoff, and selectmen march into the ceremonies

Schibanoff drew a verbal picture of an abandoned and forgotten park, and then talked about the hundreds of volunteer hours that turned the park from an abandoned, over-grown property into the beautiful park on display in the sunshine. He thanked the volunteers, the Highway Department, and those who wanted the park.

It was a day to be thankful and a day to enjoy. Arthur Provencher, the last owner, came, along with members of his family. They, too, approved the newly improved appearance. Schibanoff talked about reclaiming some of the buildings, but having to remove those that were

as a child and said that he first came to the park nearly 50 years ago. He joked that he and Coutu were probably standing in front of the gorilla cage at the same time as children. Lynch congratulated the town and the many volunteers who have devoted hours of volunteer time to the park. Dick Empey, also a Benson Committee member, became the driving force behind the walking trails that have been added to the park; the longest is the 2.5-mile Hazelton Barn walking trail. Sign markers have been posted and maps drawn. People use these trails on a daily basis. But Empey isn’t done; he has plans for additional walking trails. Lynch pledged his support to helping Hudson seniors get a senior center at the park. Others talked about adding playgrounds for children, more benches, and more picnic tables. Selectman Ben Nadeau not only thanked the current volunteers, but recalled the days of the earlier Benson Committee and the work that they did before Hudson actually owned the property. Selectman Shawn Jasper, who is the selectmen’s liaison to the Benson Committee and has spent hours volunteering in Benson’s, also spoke and thanked people. “What a journey to get here,” he began. He recalled when Benson’s Wild Animal Farm was the heart and soul of Hudson, and talked about the Shepherd’s Hill development, which he reminded the audience was once part of the Benson property. “The ZBA approved 400 units on that property, with the continued to page 10- Bensons

for the kids, and I think every year it’s bigger and better,” an anonymous person said. Mackenzie, 5, pointed out that she enjoyed everything at the festival, but her absolute favorite activity was “painting cookies, then eating them.” Even some of the older children enjoyed the day.


brings back memories of all the good times we had,” former student Bryan Brown said about the nostalgia of the day. In addition to the outdoor

activities, the traditional penny sale continued in the cafeteria, where visitors could purchase 100 tickets for $1 and distribute tickets towards winning items of their choice. A total of 394 items were offered. The wide variety of items included houseware products and electronics. “My daughter loves it. She

won last year and thinks she can do it again,” Tricia Trey said. Down the hall in PMA’s gym,

you could find the traditional craft fair and a themed basket from each class raffled off. “I like coming back every

year because there’s people here who’ve bought from me in the past and come back every year,” said Linda Stearns, wife of Windham Selectman Galen Stearns, as she manned her craft table. Another vendor at the event

was Joanne Tompkins, Zack Tompkins’ grandmother, who was selling T-shirts and hats to fundraise for the football stadium built in Zach’s name. She was also publicizing for upcoming fundraisers for the Zach Tompkins Memorial Fund. The proceeds from

PMA’s Fall Fun Fest goes to educational field trips and enrichment programs, among other school-related expenses. Part of the proceeds from this event over the last three years helped cover the cost of PMA’s new playground.

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Gina Franek and Mackenzie, 5, paint pumpkins

Neha, 7, with a goat in the petting zoo

Deanna Tardif puts a ticket in for the penny sale

Emily, 7; Ryan, 2; Zachary, 5; and John Ostrowski at the Fun Fest

Surprise Party for Gagnon’s 50th Wedding Anniversary

Harry Schibanoff acted as Master of Ceremonies Te Alvirne Band marches into the ceremonies

More than 40 family and friends gathered at the Puritan Backroom Restaurant in Manchester to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Richard and Claire Gagnon hosted by their four children: Jim and Doreen Gagnon, Todd and Julie Hansen, Ed and Joyce Marquis, and Sean and Jacqui Morse. Eight of their 11 grandchildren and one great- grandchild were present, as well as friends from Maine and Rhode Island. The Gagnons were married at St. John the

Evangelist in Hudson on October 8, 1960. Claire (née Lagace) has been a life-long resident of Hudson, with the exception of the 17 years she joined her Naval career husband stationed across the United States. After 21 years of service life, they retired to Hudson to remain here since 1977. Dick’s second retirement is from driving as a motorcoach operator last year after more than 20 years. Claire retired from the Hillsborough County Probate Court in Nashua as an Administrative Assistant. They plan a 14-day cruise to Hawaii as their anniversary celebration.

Dick and Claire Gagnon

staff photo by Lynne Ober

staff photos by Tom Tollefson

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