Westerly Library and Wilcox Park are throwing a 125th birthday party on Saturday, and you’re invited

Westerly Library and Wilcox Park are throwing a 125th birthday party on Saturday, and you’re invited


WESTERLY — It takes 800 eggs, 231 pounds of batter, 10 enormous pans and four bakers to make a cake for 1,000 people, according to Ocean House Pastry Chef Jessie Barthel.

Barthel, who is also a sous chef at the Watch Hill resort, knows these things because she and her baking colleagues are getting ready to “build” the birthday cake for Saturday’s day-long, family-friendly celebration in honor of the 125th anniversary of the Westerly Library and Wilcox Park.

“This is a great opportunity for this little kitchen,” said Barthel on Wednesday. “We are honored to be part of the celebration.”

Calling it an event that’s “close to the heart,” Barthel said she and the other bakers are “working together to bring the cake to life” for Saturday’s party.

On Saturday at noon, the public is invited to not only view Barthel’s culinary creation, but to also partake of the cake, which will be cut into 1,000 pieces after singers from the Chorus of Westerly lead guests in a round of “Happy Birthday.”

Saturday will be an all-day, “family-friendly birthday party,” said Julie Holland, who co-chaired the committee overseeing Saturday’s birthday bash. Also included will be performances by popular local bands Happy and the Moonshine and Wild Sun in the bandstand, a number of “oversized board games,” a touch-a-truck exhibit and storybook characters who will be available for photos with children.

“We have Pete the Cat, the Story Lady and Pinkalicious coming,” said Holland, “and there will be free hay rides through town.”

Holland said there was one thing committee members who planned the party knew for sure: Along with the exhibits and the programs and the fancy, ticketed under-the-tent summertime dinner dance, they were determined to hold one big, free party for the entire town.

So she and committee members Betty-Jo Cugini, Bill Lancellotta, Krystal Laharty, Melissa Lestinsky, Jennifer Obrey, Coleen Walsh and Robin Weir, along with library executive director Brigitte Hopkins put their heads together and came up with a plan: a birthday party for a thousand people.

After all, said Hopkins, “It takes a village and we wanted the public to celebrate with us, the people who use the library most.”

Last Sunday, added Hopkins, during the annual Westerly-Pawcatuck Columbus Day Parade, she and “my fantastic, creative, hard-working staff,” handed out 1,000 invitations to paradegoers who watched as the library float — an enormous, colorful, four-tiered cardboard cake — passed by.

“We’ve also made one thousand goodie bags,” said Holland, who has been busy stuffing the bags with volunteers this week.

The bags will be full of coupons from downtown merchants, notices of upcoming library events, and “a couple of surprises,” added Holland.

“There might even be some with golden tickets that people can redeem that day,” she said.

Hopkins said patrons are invited to bring a picnic to the park and enjoy the day wandering about listening to music and playing games.

Holland said there will be food vendors on hand, and the library will set up a table with a few items for sale, such as note cards designed by Ian Newbury, the artist who painted a series of library and park landmarks for the 125th anniversary.

Robert J. Holland of Pawcatuck, the newly-elected president of the library’s board of trustees and Julie’s husband, said the year full of events related to the 125th anniversary had to end with a birthday party “that included everyone from both towns.”

“We are delighted to support our dear friends at the Westerly Public Library and Wilcox Park for such a momentous moment,” added Chorus of Westerly Executive Director Ryan Saunders. “Getting to celebrate them through what we do best — singing — is a true honor for us.”

However, he added, issuing an invitation of his own, “Singing happy birthday will only be complete if everyone else joins us, so, please feel free to sing along and enjoy a great celebration.”


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