Quadricentennial update: Businesses urged to jump on Quad bandwagon

SOUTH BURLINGTON The celebration of the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlains exploration of the lake that bears his name begins in just ten and a half months, and organizers are urging businesses, as well as communities and organizations in the Lake Champlain Basin, to join in the celebration. On Tuesday, Feb. 12 members of the Vermont Quadricentennial Commission and the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce told businesses and local organizations of the plans that already exist and explained how they could get involved -- and how important it is for the community to throw their energy behind a year nobody can forget, as Commission Chair Marilyn Cormier described 2009. Many eyes will be on the basin in 2009, she told the business owners, many of them from the hospitality and tourism industries. Without you we wont have a celebration. We need you to be involved, to help get the word out. Work on the Quadricentennial Celebration (typically referred to as the Quad) began when Governor Jim Douglas appointed the Quadricentennial Commission in October 2003. Since then Vermont, New York and Quebec have been working independently and in partnership to plan events that will commemorate the arrival of Samuel de Champlain at the northern end of the lake in July 1609. The French explorer had founded a settlement at Quebec City in 1608. Jim Brangan of the Lake Champlain Basin Program said that Champlains journal entry, as he arrived at the lake with a party of Abenaki Indians, and his descriptions of the flora, fauna and native people, are the first history of the lake. Brangan also described the tricentennial celebration in 1909 with 60,000 people flooding into Burlington for a giant pageant, boxing matches, baseball games, a hot air balloon launch and a visit from the President of the United States. Events already in the works for the 2009 celebration begin with Vermonts participation in the celebration in France in 2008 to mark Champlains departure for the new world, and the celebrations in Quebec City this summer of their quadricentennial, a celebration that will include a visit by the replica canal boat, Lois McClure with a symbolic passing of the torch to the Vermont delegation. Plans for 2009 include a kick-off at First Night, a week-long celebration from July 3 to 12, a pageant at Burlingtons Waterfront on July 11, a September commemoration at Crown Point and a grand finale in the fall. Applications for events that want to be quadricized are being welcomed by the commission, and they will benefit from using the Quadricentennial logo and being included in international Quadricentennial advertising and publicity. Catherine Brooks of the Vermont Agency of Tourism said that arts organizations, history and science museums, sailing clubs, environmental groups and sports organizations have already got plans in the works for 2009, with everything from concerts and river trips to food-oriented lectures and television documentaries. Marilyn Cormier had a word of caution, based on observation of the relative lack of excitement generated by the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Colony marked last year. The people of Virginia werent aware of the impending celebration ahead of time, they didnt build a broad-based enthusiasm, she said. We want to be sure to get the word out to everyone in the Champlain basin, and we hope everyone will find a way to be involved. For information on participating, how to quadricize an event that is held every year but could have a Quadricentennial focus in 2009, or organize a special celebration of the lake, the land and the people, and how to qualify to use the logo, visit www.celebratechamplain.com .

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