Story by Katie Krahulik
The Mayor of Warwick, England and his wife (the former Mayoress), will visit Warwick for the Sesquicentennial Celebration from Wed., Aug. 2 through Sun., Aug. 6. They will stay at the Warwick Bed and Breakfast, located at 24 Maple Ave. in Warwick and the Sesquicentennial Committee has organized an exciting itinerary for the couple during their trip.
Stephen and Christine Cross have both mayored Warwick, England. Christine Cross was elected Mayor over her husband Stephen, who assumed the role after her term concluded as per the rules of their English government.
“The fact that they are the first husband and wife elected in succession is purely democracy,” said Village of Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard.
The couple was contacted by Warwick resident George Arnott, who got the idea to reach out to them after a conversation with local historian, Dr. Richard Hull. They questioned where the name “Warwick” came from and Dr. Hull assumed it was probably from Warwickshire, England. Arnott decided to send an email informing them of the Sesquicentennial celebration in Warwick, NY.
“They said that not only would they send a letter of acclamation, but that they’d like to come. So we started making plans,” Arnott said.
In addition to receiving special treatment that weekend which will include a featured appearance in the Sesquicentennial Parade, a visit to Dagele Produce Farms and the Black Dirt fields, members of the committee have planned an exclusive tour for the couple at the West Point Military Academy on Fri., Aug. 4.
Mayor Newhard said, “The Mayor is a military history buff so West Point is going to be amazing for him.” He explained that Joe Debold, a local, knows Marty Dempsey, who served as the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was through this connection that the tour was able to be arranged.
Mayor Newhard, Joe Debold and George Arnott met with the Chief of Protocol, Jeffery Reynolds and his assistant, Jillian Rodriquez (Protocol Specialist), last week to make arrangements. The tour will be led by the top tour guide, Sherman Fleek (former retired Lt. Colonel). The couple will be meeting USMA Garrison Commander, Col. Andy Hanson, and although there will be no British cadets, they are scheduled to eat in the Mess Hall where they will meet a representative of the United Kingdom, Captain Phillip Anderson. They will tour the cemetery, the museums and grounds, and learn the general history of West Point.
Sesquicentennial Committee members Doug Stage and Neil Sinclair will have the honor of transporting the couple from the airport to the Village of Warwick. Stage explained that he had a great icebreaker for the guests as he and his wife Christine had visited Warwick, England in 2002 and received an exclusive tour because he was a member of the Warwick Valley community. He presented a Warwick Rotary and Lion’s Club “friendship banner” to the person who seemed to the Stages to have been the Village Clerk.
“We were not the first people visiting from Warwick, NY,” Stage discovered. He and his wife were presented with some small gifts and invited to the “mayoring,” which just so happened to be that very evening.
With a distinct English influence, Warwick, NY is often referred to as the “Queen Village.” This connection to England is also found in a familiar street name in Warwick, Forester Ave., named after Frank Forester, an English writer related to the family that owned Downton Abbey.
In celebrating 150 years, the Village of Warwick will be honoring its roots during the Sesquicentennial celebration with an assortment of events, activities, and special opportunities to engage in the community. The opening ceremonies will be held on Wed., Aug. 2 on Railroad Green and the Blue Grass Band will perform at 7 p.m., followed by DJ Chris Ford who will host a dance party.
On Thurs., Aug. 3, National Watermelon Day a watermelon eating contest will be celebrated at Stanley-Deming Park and the first concert under the new pavilion.
A reception will take place on Fri., Aug. 4 at the Landmark Inn, located at 526 Rte. 94, where the members of the time capsule committee will be recognized for their efforts. At 7 p.m. that night, the New York Swing Exchange will perform at Railroad Green and there will be a mustache and beard contest.
The biggest day of the Sesquicentennial celebration will be on Sat., Aug. 5. The 1967 time capsule will be retrieved and opened at 10 a.m. at Veterans’ Memorial Park on Forester Ave. in Warwick. The parade will be at 4 p.m. that day and it will begin on Park Ave. and proceed to Oakland Ave., finishing at Memorial Park, where there will be a free community cook out from 4 to 6 p.m. The Warwick Summer Arts Festival will have a stage set up for numerous music and dance acts. To conclude the weekend, there will be fireworks at 10 p.m.