“Person of the Year Awards” ceremony returns after a two-year COVID-19 absence
By Mark E. Vogler
Citizens of all ages will converge on Saugus Center at 9 a.m. tomorrow for the start of the 41st Annual Founders Day event – the town’s biggest social event of the year. For four decades now – with a cancellation due to health concerns over COVID-19 in 2020 – the event has brought out the best of Saugus among all ages. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Central Street from the monument rotary in Saugus Center will be closed all the way up to St. John’s Episcopal Church as Saugonians from toddlers to senior citizens will enjoy a potpourri of good food, arts and crafts, fun games to raise money for local charities and youth groups and a chance to meet old friends and make new ones and learn some neat and historical things about their hometown.
For the first time in two years, those close to Town Hall at noon will get to observe the signature event – the awarding of ‘Persons of the Year’ to two deserving people who have dedicated themselves to the betterment of Saugus – a man and woman selected by past award recipients. This tradition has been canceled for two years because of COVID-19 because past winners didn’t feel comfortable to assemble and choose award recipients.
“As a kid I used to love going to Founders Day to see all the booths and hangout with all of my family and friends,” Emily Grant recalled in an interview this week from her desk at the Saugus Youth & Recreation Department, where she works as Interim Programs Coordinator.
“It was something to look forward to every single year. Now, having worked Founders Day for the last seven years, I love being able to help the community have this opportunity to be able to all come together and show off their booths – being able to help them set up in the morning to help them take everything down at the end,” said Grant, a 2017 Saugus High School graduate.
“Whether it’s giving out brochures and information, crafts, handmade items or the classes for Saugus High raising money, it’s a nice day to be able to enjoy everyone coming together and spending the day browsing, learning and overall having fun! We look forward to this event every single year, and we can’t wait to see what this year brings!”
On its website, the Theatre Company of Saugus describes the occasion as “a street fair” which features “vendors, food carts, games for kids, art sales, and information booths set up by community organizations and businesses.
“Theatre Company of Saugus always participates. There will be a TCS info booth, featuring raffles, games, and information. Several fantastic raffle prizes will be awarded. Purchase tickets at the TCS booth.
“Need costumes for Halloween? We have them for sale at our table!”
TCS will also perform selections from its shows on the steps in front of Town Hall. This year the group will feature the kids from the Youth Theatre Workshop this summer performing selections from “Willy Wonka JR.” and “The Addams Family young@part.” There will also be a preview of “Zombie Prom”! The performance time is 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Saugus Youth & Recreation Director Crystal Cakounes said she expects there will be about 90 individual booths set up on both sides of Central Street. “A lot of residents will be coming to sell handmade items – jewelry, wreaths and wooden crafts,” Cakounes said.
“It will be a chance for people to do some early Christmas shopping. My favorite thing is getting Saugus-made stuff. I’m such a diehard Sachem. I love it when the various groups are selling their merch [merchandise].
“There will be lots of fund-raising going on. Whatever you buy or the games you play for fun, it goes to a great cause: local organizations, youth and sports groups.”
Cakounes said “Jail For Bail” is back by popular demand. The Saugus High Band will have a makeshift jail cell set up to incarcerate town and school officials until they find somebody to make a financial contribution to the band to pay for their freedom.
The Saugus High Class of 2024 (Juniors) will raise money with its “pie in the face” booth. And the Saugus High Senior Class of 2023 will have a dunk tank set up so contributors can throw softballs at a target to make a metal chair collapse, sending one of the seniors into the chilly water.
“There’s plenty of neat stuff going on,” Cakounes said.
“St. John’s Church will be doing an Ice Cream Social inside the church. The North Shore Bank will have a booth for doing caricatures. The Drama Club will do face-painting,” she said.
A wooden stage is already set up at the bottom of the steps of Town Hall – where several local dance studios, theatre companies and singers will perform.
“You will be happy to know that the drummer may return to Founders Day this year,” Cakounes said, referring to Gino Figliola, of Haverhill – who started coming when he was a nine-year-old in 2015. His mother, Brenda Figliola, is a former Saugus resident and sees her son’s performance as a way for her to “give back to the community I grew up in.”
Founders Day began in 1980, modeled after a country market that was part of the town’s 350th bicentennial celebration, Donna Gould recalled in an interview several years ago. She has been recognized as the organizer or founder of Founders Day.
Gould called the awarding of “Person of the Year” awards as the marquee event which captivated community pride. A summary of the award notes that each presentation is made “In recognition of their dedication to the Town of Saugus. This award truly exemplifies the outstanding spirit of our Founding Fathers.”
A Founders Day Guide
WHAT: the 41st Annual Saugus Founders Day.
WHERE: Saugus Center in front of Town Hall (246 Central St.).
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 10.
9:00–9:30: Flag Raising/Opening/Kim Tobey Singing.
11:30–12:00: MICA Dance Group.
12:00–1:00: Person of The Year.
1:00–1:30: Beat ConnXtionz Dance Studio.
1:30–2:30: Theatre Company of Saugus.
For Sale: People will be selling their handmade goods as well as other items – jewelry, candles, soap, home decor, tutus, hair accessories, wooden crafts, scarves, photography, quilts, etc. – novelties, caricatures, toys, Boston-themed merchandise, etc. School PTOs, sports groups & organizations will be selling apparel merchandise as well as running crafts and raffles.
Fundraising: Per usual, the school PTOs, sports groups & organizations will be selling apparel and merchandise as well as running crafts and raffles. Many school and youth groups will also be selling raffle tickets and merchandise. Founders Day is one of the biggest fundraising events for these kids, so it is a great way to help them out!
The Fun Area: These attractions for children include inflatables, games, face painting, sand art, crafts and a dunk tank. All money raised in the fun area goes directly to the Saugus High School Groups that are volunteering there.
For Community’s Sake: Nonprofit organizations and various banks and other businesses will be handing out information about their groups.
In the Food Area: In the food area on Taylor Street, people will be able to enjoy their favorite flavors from an ice cream truck, sausage sandwiches with peppers and onions, pizza, fried dough, grilled cheese, nachos, Chick Fil A, food from Kowloon and hot dogs. Money spent in the food area will be donated back to the youth organizations that are sponsoring each vendor. There will be signs so you know who is benefiting from your purchase.
Suggested Parking: Blessed Sacrament Church, 14 Summer St.
DJ for the Day: John Claffey of Spin’n Tunes Disc Jockey Service.