While the 2012 Lake Champlain Bridge parade and festivities did not attract as many attendees as the 1929 bridge opening events, it will be remembered as a day of sunshine, fun, celebration, and genuine community.
The big parade of May 19, which began on the Vermont side and ended on the New York side of the new span, included floats and marchers representing schools, community and civic groups, businesses, law enforcement, fire and rescue, and antique cars carrying members of the ‘29ers Club, residents, and many others.
Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) told a WVTK 92.1 radio crew, during a live broadcast at the Bridge Restaurant that the weekend, that, in a sense, May 19-20 was a more memorable moment than the day the bridge opened, primarily because it gave us the perspective of half-a-year. We couldn’t agree more.
While taking photographs of the parade for this newspaper, the editor was struck by how friendly all the participants and attendees were; it was an event that fostered a genuine spirit of community.
It was nice to see New Yorkers and Vermonters share a sense of pride and relief that the bridge, which officially opened in November, is here to stay at last.
I spoke with members of the Kayhart Brothers Farm of Addison which, like so many businesses in Addison County and across the lake, were affected by the 752-day-long bridge construction project.
Alexa Kayhart, who managed a temporary petting zoo for the kiddies near the historic Chimney Point tavern site May 19-20, said her family owns land in Crown Point, N.Y.; it relied on the bridge for years to transport cattle across the lake for grazing purposes.
Until the temporary lake ferry was set up, the Kayhart family had to truck their cattle from Addison to Crown Point via Castleton and Whitehall. A trip of more than 100 miles.