ELIZABETHTOWN - It's going to be a big party.
At least, that is the hope of Lake Champlain Bridge Coalition officials, who presented their preliminary plans for an opening event to celebrate the dedication of the new bridge between Crown Point and Chimney Point to members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors Feb. 4.
"What we are looking for is your support," Karen Hennessy of the coalition said, adding that by support, she was not referring to funds.
"We do not want to ask for any taxpayer dollars as far as looking for money from you, but we do realize that for events like we are looking at we are going to need the help of departments like the highway and the sheriffs to make things work," Hennessey said.
Hennessey and Lorraine Franklin went over the plans for a two-day event that would include an opening ceremony combined with or done separate of a dedication, closing ceremony with fireworks, parade, music, re-enactments, boat parade, dances, concerts, boat rides, bicycle tours, walking tour, a foot race, an ecumenical service and vendors.
"This is all being done on a wing and a prayer," Franklin said. "We are going to keep planning and do what we can until we get a date for when the bridge is going to open. We hope that we can organize an opening ceremony around the approval of the bridge, but even if we have to do something small on a Tuesday, we will, because we know that once the bridge is done their not going to wait for us to open it."
Hennessy said that the organization is hopeful to have people and other items that were also apart of the 1929 opening ceremonies for the old bridge at the new ceremonies.
"We have the Vermont Statehouse float that was in the original parade in 1929 that is just waiting to be in the new parade," Hennessy said. "We are looking to find people who were at the 1929 dedication and have them go across the bridge in vintage vehicles. There are a lot of organizations or people who are out there just waiting to be asked to come and be a part of this."
Franklin said that the fundraising for the events will be done through corporate and private sponsorships, as well as product branding.
"There are a lot of local wineries and breweries that will do special labels for events like this," Franklin said. "We would also love to ask Ben and Jerry's to do a flavor just for the event."
Hennessey said that the event will be a positive change from when the national media last turned their attention to the region when the bridge was destroyed that will focus on the strengths of the local community.
"We are not looking for vendors or businesses from outside the area to bepart of this because we want to keep this just people from the region so we can show people around the nation what we have here," Hennessey said.
The Lake Champlain Bridge Coalition currently can be found on Facebook and is developing a Web site to keep the public updated on their plans.
"You are doing a wonderful thing for the community and we appreciate your efforts and congratulate you on what you have done so far," county chairman Randy Douglas said.