Motorists travel between Crown Point, N.Y. and Addison, Vt. on the Lake Champlain Bridge around 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7 shortly after the new span opened
CROWN POINT — The Champlain Bridge opening celebration is on schedule to take place May 19 and 20.
The event will include an “Old Time Hometown Grand Parade” set to begin in Chimney Point, Vt. and travel across the new bridge to the Crown Point Historic Site, as well as many other events and attractions throughout the celebration.
New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) spokeswoman Carol Breen said recent rumors that suggested the bridge might not be shut down by the DOT to allow the parade are unfounded.
“The group is in the process of completing necessary permits for the parade,” Breen said. “But we expect we should be able to approve the closing of the bridge for the parade.”
The Lake Champlain Celebration Committee is applying for a closure period of about two hours. During that time the committee must construct a plan to ensure emergency personnel have access to the bridge and an emergency procedure in place for parade participants.
An organizer and Fundraising Coordinator for the celebration, Karen Hennessy, said the committee is composing an emergency procedure to ensure the safety of everyone at the event.
“Incorporating an emergency course of action is a major part of our planning,” Hennessy said. “We will make sure if emergency vehicles need to get over the bridge there will be a way.”
The two-day celebration will include events held on both the New York and Vermont side of the bridge to encourage people to visit the historical sites and events both sides have to offer visitors.
Visitors can walk across the bridge to get to all the attractions or Essex County Transportation will provide a bus that can take visitors to events, Hennessy said.
The committee is planning the event to be comparable to the first Champlain bridge opening in 1929.
“Forty-thousand people attended the first opening in 1929,” Hennessy said. “We don’t expect that many but we expect a lot to come and we’re going to reintroduce this corridor back to the world now that we have the bridge back.”
The opening ceremony will be held on the New York side of the bridge on Saturday morning and the closing ceremony will be held on the Vermont side on Sunday evening. The closing ceremony will be concluded with a momentous fire work show that will be coordinated with music chosen by online voters.
“People can go online to our website and make song suggestions for the fire works to be choreographed to,” she said.
Just like the original opening in 1929, there will be a Boat Flotilla, or a boat parade on Lake Champlain. Area boaters can decorate their vessels like a float. The Louis McClure, of the Champlain Maritime Museum will be sailing through the flotilla as well.
New York State Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward will be participating in the festivities and riding on a float. Other government representatives from both Vermont and New York have been extended invitations and Hennessy said she believes more representatives will confirm as the celebration draws closer.
“We’re not planning any big speech giving or anything, we already did that the day the bridge was open,” Hennessy said.“This is just an invitation to our representatives to come help celebrate with us as we get back on track.”
The event coordinators are inviting local artisans, craftsman, artists and musicians to get involved in the festivities by renting a booth to showcase their work.
“The bridge will become a centerpiece and we want to showcase what we have to offer on both sides of the lake,” she said. “We want to show exactly what we have to offer here as its a great marketing tool for us as well. “
For a full list of events or to sign up to rent a booth at the opening day celebration go to the champlainbridgecommunity.org.