Hundreds gather to celebrate Easton's 175th anniversary

Photo of Shayla Colon

EASTON — “Welcome Easton, to the funk explosion,” said Bill Ehalt, lead singer of The Brotherhood.” The funk vibrations were heard a whole block away from the Ashlar Aspetuck lodge on Saturday.

Residents celebrated Easton’s 175-year anniversary with a town-wide party. Live music played on the masonic lodge lawn and families gathered with their chairs and blankets. Lines formed for the food truck and some finished off the meal with a frosty ice cream. Kids played and adults danced all afternoon under the sun.

The celebration culminated with a drive-in-style fireworks show Saturday night at Samuel Staples Elementary School.

Between 100 and 200 people were expected for the six-hour daytime event, which was among the largest public gatherings in the area since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March.

Face masks were required and each family set up blankets or chairs about 6 feet apart from each other. Some took off their masks within their personal spaces to speak and eat with close friends or family. People generally remained within their cohorts, but some mingled with others outside of the immediate group.

“Live music, beer, barbecue, they hit all the checks,” resident Jody Matejka said. “It’s a great town, it’s good to see a little diversity going on too, which is nice, and it’s peaceful.”

Residents of all ages attended the festivities, some even getting to know each other more.

Rydell Harrison, the new schools superintendent, attended the event with his family and talked to some students.

“We’re here to support and celebrate with the town. Being here today, everyone has been really friendly and everything has been really nice, really relaxing,” said Monica Harrison, the superintendent’s wife.

Locals seemed to enjoy the large-scale event despite the pandemic, some even describing it as a nice break. Families reveled in the daytime fun in preparation for the grand finale later that evening.

Sparks flew when the Easton EMS department hosted a fireworks show at Samuel Staples Elementary School. EMS Chief Jon Arnold estimated there were less than 250 cars with an average of three people in each to see the fireworks.

Attendees were required to remain in or near their cars and there was no food or other amenities to keep people from roaming around.

“In better times we would definitely be featuring all of that, we probably would of had food trucks and a lot of other stuff, but unfortunately this year we just can’t do it,” Arnold said.

Ticket proceeds from the fireworks went to the volunteer EMS department to renovate its 100 year-old building or find a new location.