The Y2K Bug shows up at the Hancock Old Home Days parade, August 1999. Photo: Eleanor Briggs
Hancock Old Home Days
The 1999 Hancock parade may have been small,
but its floats were original: a Y2K bug, ridden by members of
Hancock's Y2K committee; Chicken Little whose umbrella had
computer discs stuck to it, since the sky was falling in bits
and bytes; and a "living" painting of a re-enactment of the
Iwo Jima flag raising. The historical society's
"penny-farthing" bicycle, which has been a parade favorite for
45 years, sported a five-foot tall wheel composed of a garden
hose. Other paraders were the Temple Marching Band and the
Hancock High School classes of 1954, 1943, and 1938.
The 1999 parade helped mark the 100th anniversary of
New Hampshire's Old Home Day, and the 120th celebration for
Hancock. Hancock's Old Home Day tradition began as a Symonds family
picnic in 1879. Picnics became larger, with attendance reaching 500
in 1884. By 1888, the picnic had become the Hancock Town Picnic.
Organizers in 1889 adopted a resolution that the picnic's goal was
to encourage sociability and the return of former residents.
Meanwhile, the governor of New Hampshire, Frank
Rollins, inaugurated the state's Old Home Day in 1899, and founded
the Old Home Day Association. While towns such as Hancock had held
annual picnics and "old people's gatherings," Rollins' initiative
was new. Invitations were sent across the country inviting
relatives and New Hampshire descendants to return to New Hampshire
for the statewide celebration. Rollins' goal was to rebuild the
state's diminishing population by enticing visitors to buy summer
homes and to revitalize community spirit and economy.
Hancock's 1899 Town Picnic was expanded to include an
Old Home Week Gathering. Civic-minded poems and ballads were
inspired, recited, sung and proclaimed. After 1900, baseball was
the only organized activity, with games in the morning and
afternoon in between a program of sermons, poems, songs, and
reminiscing. In the 1920s, fireworks were added and a special
commemoration to mark the arrival of electricity. When Hancock
celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1929, more than 10,000
participated, including Mrs. Calvin Coolidge, who had spent her
girlhood days in Hancock. She also returned for Hancock's 1938 home
Documentation includes a 19-page account of the
historic Hancock Old Home Days, a video of 1999 festival
highlights; a 1929 program for Hancock's 150th anniversary
celebration; brochures; a 1908 photo of the Hancock Cornet band;
slides from the 1999 festival; and other historical objects.
Originally submitted by: Charles F. Bass, Representative (2nd District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.