What's Happening For Centennial Celebration 'Canaliversary'

The white tented pavilion is the setting for opening day speeches and festivities during the July 29, 1914, opening of the Cape Cod Canal. At right is the barge that took August Belmont and his group out to inspect the finished canal.
COURTESY BOURNE ARCHIVES - The white tented pavilion is the setting for opening day speeches and festivities during the July 29, 1914, opening of the Cape Cod Canal. At right is the barge that took August Belmont and his group out to inspect the finished canal.

Tuesday, July 29, marks the exact 100-year anniversary of the day when the Cape Cod Canal became a dedicated waterway.

A series of events celebrating this milestone of maritime achievement will start at 1 PM at Buzzards Bay Park and will go right through to the finale fireworks starting at 9 PM.

The Cape Cod Canal Centennial Committee is calling this celebration the Canaliversary. All of the events are free and open to the public.

The big day will start at 1 PM with the official 100th anniversary commemoration ceremony.

A colonel, a brigadier general, and the assistant secretary of the Army, Civil Works Division, will offer words to mark the occasion and the people who made the canal possible.

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After the speeches, the Cape Cod Youth Symphony Orchestra will perform with special guest Siobhan Magnus, the Cape Cod singer-songwriter who was the sixth-place finalist on the ninth season of “American Idol.” A cake-cutting ceremony will follow at 3 PM in front of the Stop & Shop booth in the park.

The park will be filled with food vendors, retail vendors and special guest vendors, including the US Postal Service, Boston Society for Civil Engineers, and a Wampanoag history exhibit.

Historic characters will be on hand as will strolling entertainers. Lawn games from 1914 will be available for play, and children’s engineering activities and antique cars will be on site.

“Visitors to this event are likely to have a fantastic time and unique experiences. The committee seems to have made sure that there is something for everyone. Major events like this are great for tourism. People are more motivated to make travel plans around something that is going to be special,” said Betsy Wall, executive director of the Massachusetts office of travel and tourism.

At 4 PM a tugboat parade will start at Massachusetts Maritime Academy and travel the length of the canal. In addition, every hour on the hour starting at 4 PM musical acts will entertain the crowd. Adam Ezra, Brother Josephus Ryan Montbleau, GQ and the Lady featuring Linda Calise, and the Joe Casano Big Band are the biggest headliners.

From 9 AM to 5 PM visitors can tour ships and exhibits at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Delaware’s tall ship, the Kalmar Nyckel, and a schooner, Mystic from Mystic Adventure Sails, will be docked for tours along with the academy’s own training ship, Kennedy.

A special exhibition that debuted in April and will be available throughout the day at the Massachusetts Maritime, American Bureau of Shipping Information Commons is the Nina Heald Webber Cape Cod Canal Collection. The exhibit, which is more than 80 feet long, displays a timeline of the evolution of the canal with model ships and artifacts representing the different stages of the canal’s life. Ms. Webber, 82, has been collecting canal memorabilia since she was 4 years old.

The conclusion of the Canaliversary will come at about 9 PM, when the a fireworks display will light up the sky. The majority of fireworks will be set off from barges in Buzzards Bay. The Cape Cod Canal Centennial Committee said these fireworks will be seen for miles around Bourne, Wareham and Onset Bay.

“I imagine that Cape Cod residents all place some special meaning with the canal, be it a gateway to a summer home, a place of solace and beauty, a waterway for a mariner and so on. I think the 100-year anniversary is a huge occasion for Cape Cod,” said Cape Cod Canal Centennial Committee assistant managing director Diana M. Scolponeti, owner of an event planning business called In The Event.

“The celebration will be reminiscent of Old Cape Cod and will embrace the Cape Cod of today, Ms. Scolponeti continued. “The 100-year mark is so significant because it highlights a truly inspirational collaborative project that impacted a community at large for an entire century. It has been an absolute honor to work on this project.”

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