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Lockport plans 9-day celebration of its 150th birthday

LOCKPORT – The City of Lockport, which was incorporated 150 years ago, is marking the anniversary from Saturday through July 5 with a barrage of events all over the city.

Lockport was a village before the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, but it became a city by act of the State Legislature April 11, 1865.

Perhaps taking a cue from Britain, which celebrates Queen Elizabeth’s birthday in June even though she was born in April, Lockport had a modest observance April 11 but saved most of the sesquicentennial activities for summer in hopes of better weather.

“Really, the whole premise of the sesquicentennial week is to promote everything that’s positive,” said City Clerk Richelle J. Pasceri, a member of the organizing committee.

The dates were chosen to begin with the annual Arts and Crafts Festival on Main Street on Saturday and Sunday, and end with the Independence Day weekend. The Taste of Lockport, which normally is held on the third Sunday in August, was moved to July 5 to add to the sesquicentennial excitement.

Taste organizer Jennifer Serrano said she anticipates 24 vendors that day, extending the event from its normal Ida Fritz Park location. She said she expects to close Main Street between Transit and Locust streets, giving vendors more room.

Also, she needs the space because she hopes to draw enough attendance to break the Guinness world record for the largest crowd singing on a live radio broadcast. Buffalo’s Jack FM will be on the air as the crowd sings the old Erie Canal standby “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal,” also known as “Low Bridge, Everybody Down.”

Serrano needs 6,691 people to break the record, and a Guinness World Records auditor will be on hand to validate the effort.

Residents elected Demetrius Grant and Lea Soberiaski as Mr. and Ms. Lockport in a Facebook poll, and they will lead the Independence Day parade at 6 p.m. July 3 on Locust Street and play a prominent role in many other events.

Ellen Martin, Lockport’s leading public art provocateur, said two closed buildings will be illuminated at night during the sesquicentennial. The steeple of the closed St. Mary’s Catholic Church will be lit as it used to be, and lights also will be installed in the ruins of Union Station, gutted by fire nearly 40 years ago.

“I think celebrating it as the ruin it is is a great thing to do right now,” Martin said.

A brief sesquicentennial opening ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Flight of Five, the original canal locks that gave the city its name. The operation of the partially restored locks will be demonstrated on Saturdays and Sundays during the observance.

About a dozen Lockport restaurants will be offering $15 specials from Monday through Wednesday, and Cornerstone Arena, located at Chestnut and Market streets, will have $1.50 public ice skating each day of the observance.

A tug of war between elected officials for the city and town of Lockport will be held at 3 p.m. Tuesday in Ida Fritz Park, West and Park avenues, and a giant water balloon fight will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday in Altro Park on Willow Street.

“If you have little kids, we won’t let teenagers pelt them. It will be age-group appropriate,” Pasceri promised.

A full list of activities is available at lockport150.com.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com