Sesquicentennial Spring Celebration

Try and say that three times fast.

It’s definitely a mouthful, but when a tradition has lasted 150 years it deserves a lip trippin’ title, doesn’t it?

Our little community of Mendon celebrated our annual May Day festivities over the weekend.

It was awesome!

It kicked off on Friday night with the community dance and a floor show presentation of the May Queen and Court. After weeks of rehearsals and worry, my cute Court kids made me proud with their floor show dance performance.

After a particularly rough practice a couple weeks ago, I was lamenting to my daughter, who is in the court, about whether we’d ever pull it together in time. Madi gave me reassurance, “Don’t worry, Mom. Their egos are too big to do it right in the rehearsals, and too big to do it wrong in the performance.”

From the mouths of babes.

She was right on.

It’s amazing the focus and ability that kicks in when parents, grandparents, peers, and a Herald Journal reporter are looking on in the audience. Just when I thought everything I’d told them over the past month had fallen on deaf ears, the spotlights turned on, the music turned up, and a bunch of sullen teenagers transformed into Broadway babies.


After that was the traditional “Parent Dance” where the boys in the court dance with their moms, and the girls dance with their dads.

I got to choose the song.

Initially, I thought there was a separate dance for mother/son and father/daughter. I poured over possibilities. I decided on Daughters by John Mayer for the father/daughter dance and Beauty and the Beast by Peabo Bryson for the mother/son dance.

I thought it was funny and cute.

My son thought it was mean. He was smug when he found out it was combined so I wouldn’t get to use it.

I suppose I still could have used it, categorizing both the teenage boys and the dads on the dancefloor as “beasts,” but I decided to go a different direction.

One thing was certain, I was NOT going to use Butterfly Kisses.


I don’t care if the Mendon Mayor himself demanded it, I would have taken the matter to the supreme court if necessary.

The sap in that song is so heavy it could put a cavity in a veneer.

In the end, I went with The Best Day by Taylor Swift. It’s sweet and sentimental, but not syrupy and comes from the perspective of a teenager. Madi loves that song. She says it reminds her of the times she and her dad just talk when they’re driving in the truck somewhere.

So cute.

It was fun to see all these teenagers dressed in formals and suits swaying in the arms of the enemy.

After that, we cranked up the jam and boogied the night away.

I got to help DJ this killer gig.

Oh, yea. Middle aged Mom spinnin’ the tunes.

It was a community dance with people of all ages so they wanted songs to accommodate a wide audience. I totally killed it with my mix. I played songs from Glenn Miller and Michael Bublé to Black Eyed Peas and Muse. We did the Boot Scootin’ Boogie, the Hokey Pokey and the Chicken Dance.

It was a blast! I fell into bed totally exhausted, but with a smile on my face. Thunder and lightening cracked and boomed all night. In my tired delirium I prayed silently through the night for a bright sunny May Day.

Mother Nature delivered.

The grass was wet, but the sun was shining in all its springtime glory as the May Day Queen and Court reigned and little girls in matching dresses danced in the morning light around the Maypole weaving brightly colored ribbons.

My 90-year-old grandma kept clapping and saying over and over, “They’ll remember this day the rest of their lives.”

I hope they do.

I know I will.

May Day is one of my favorite days of the year. Thinking that the same celebration has taken place on that very spot for 150 consecutive years almost made me teary that morning. What a heritage! Traditions are what define a community and hold it together. There are those in our town who are May Day Scrooges for some reason and think we ought to relinquish it. “Put them in the stocks!” I say. Sure, singing songs about “Straying and Maying amid the blooming flowers” is corny, but who cares! It’s not like some of the lyrics nowadays are anything to brag about, like the words to Moves like Jagger?

I’d rather my kids were “Straying and Maying.”

After the Maypoles had been braided, we all crammed into the old church on the square for the traditional May Day program. The Mayor and the May Queen say a few words as well as other community luminaries. A family band from Mendon did a “through the years” musical tribute in honor of 150 years of May Day that was a lot of fun. They jammed on the banjo, fiddle, accordion and drums as a couple did the polka.

The Maypole girls sang a couple songs and the May Queen’s Court sang a song.

I was in charge of this part for the Court too.

I chose I See the Light from the Disney movie Tangled for them to sing. I thought it was appropriate because that song is sung by a princess and her escort during an annual community celebration. Again, as a youth community group with a wide span of musical ability, and inability, we had to keep it simple and this song has a beautiful, basic melody.

I did get brave and teach them a little harmony part for the ending, which they completely abandoned in their nervousness at the performance, but it turned out well anyway.

One of my favorite parts of the program was a fashion show of May Day dresses through the years going back to the 1970s. Some community pack rat has saved a set of May pole dancer dresses from all those years and her hoarding finally paid off. The Marsha Brady years were definitely apparent, and it looked like the 80s fashion influence stayed well into the 21st century in the isolated community of Mendon.

The whole thing was lovely and represented the best our community has to offer.

Afterward, we went home to change out of our nice clothes and came back to the park to let the kids play, grab a meal at the burger stand, and watch the softball tournament.

What a day!

In the words of Isaac Sorensen:

With cheerful glee and chorus song
The hours were filled with pleasure,
Some found a pebble, some a flow’r
Each trifle seemed a treasure;
For trifles light as air can please
The guileless heart in hours of ease.
While straying and maying,
Amid the early blooming flow’rs.

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