Both sides of the Lake Champlain Bridge were lined as classic cars, bands and floats officially welcomed back the crossing between two states, more than six months after the bridge opened to the public on Nov. 7, 2011.
The Lake Champlain Bridge Celebration was held over the May 19-20 weekend with two days of car shows, parades, food, tents and fireworks. It attracted a crowd of more than 1,000 people, far less than the 10,000 Celebration organizers had anticipated, but a sizeable crowd nonetheless.
Festivities opened May 19 with a ceremony where dignitaries from both sides of Lake Champlain again expressed their joy over the new structure.
“This is a standing monument to a can-do culture,” Crown Point Supervisor Charles Harrington said. “Having gone without a bridge, we have a new appreciation and respect for those leaders who were able to re-define the term, ‘fast track.’”
“We are hopeful that this will become a destination place for people to come and explore our history,” Jeffrey Kauffman of the Addison County Select Board said.
The ceremony was attended by several dignitaries, including New York state Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward and Sen. Betty Little. They, along with their counterparts from Vermont, gave special awards to the co-chairs of the Lake Champlain Bridge Coalition, Karen Hennessey of Crown Point and Lorraine Franklin of West Addison.
“Our voices would not have been heard if it were not for everyone who joined with us,” Franklin said. “I cannot thank this community enough.”
Also on hand for the ceremonies was bridge designer Ted Zoli, a Schroon Lake native who spent his summers at nearby Camp Dudley.
“Bridges are works that take many, many people and are for the use of many, many people,” Zoli said. “This has been the most remarkable project that I have ever been involved with from the standpoint of the amount community participation that was involved. This is the most energized community and region I have ever been involved with by a factor of 10, and it is in no small way that this structure is a result of that involvement.”
Zoli said that he had enjoyed his part in creating a new span between the two states.
“It has been our honor and pleasure to work on this project,” Zoli said.
The Lake Champlain Bridge parade was held at 11 a.m., as those who were at the original 1929 bridge opening were featured, riding in classic automobiles and referred to as the ’29ers.
Celebrations continued throughout the day and into Sunday, and were capped by a fireworks show.