Port Henry Harrison Rich wanted a place in history. Nov. 7 he got it.
Rich, a sixth grade student at Moriah Central School, was officially the first person to cross the new Champlain Bridge when it opened Nov. 7.
“I thought it would be pretty cool to be the first one across the bridge; to have a place in history,” he said. “I did it.”
Rich’s accomplishment came after days of planning.
“My father and I went to the bridge the day before it opened so I could be the first across, but we couldn’t get over it,” said Rich, the son of Dallas and Staley Rich of Port Henry. “But the day the bridge opened my mom took me and told me to go ahead.”
Rich methodically worked his way through the crowd until he was standing directly behind the dignitaries attending the formal ribbon cutting ceremony on the Crown Point side of the span. There he encountered Vermont House Rep. Diane Lanpher.
“I was placing my coat on a chair and he was right there,” Lanpher recalled of Rich at the ceremony. “He told me he wanted to be the first person across the bridge. I told him as soon as the ribbon was cut to go for it.”
Rich did, running as hard as he could to beat the crowd. Nearing the end of the nearly half mile bridge he tired and began to walk.
“I had to start running again,” he said. “I was afraid someone would catch me and get across first.”
No one did.
Rich was recognized for his accomplishment during a ceremony at Moriah Central School Jan. 12.
Lanpher presented Rich with a framed photo of him running across the span that day.
Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward of New York gave Rich a certificate from the state Assembly marking his feat.