One of the first official events celebrating Fairfield's 375th anniversary began with a shout Friday when a "Town Crier" issued an official proclamation.

With a commanding voice that carried across Town Hall Green, Walt Matis, who is also program and volunteer coordinator with the Fairfield Museum and History Center, made the proclamation as the start of the town's birthday officially began with a townwide food drive for people in need.

Organizers of Fairfield's 375th Food Drive hope to collect enough to supply four major food distribution centers for a full year, including Operation Hope, Bridgeport Rescue Mission, Thomas Merton House in Bridgeport and A Project from the Heart, a local group that sends care packages to troops.

"Our event is going to culminate with an actual brick-and-mortar collection on April 26 and 27 at Fairfield Ludlowe High School," said Diane Auray, executive director of the drive.

"I think it's a phenomenal way of commemorating the 375th anniversary," said Eleanor Gonzalez of Fairfield, who was on hand to watch Matis in a Colonial-style costume, read the proclamation as he rang a bell and then posted it at the message board by Old Post Road.

"Since its settlement, Fairfield has prospered more by the character of its people than a richness of location or natural resources," Matis read. "That quality is never more evident than when our citizens turn their generous nature to helping our neighbors in need."

"The food drive was the brainstorm of Judge Dan Caruso," said First Selectman Michael Tetreau, "to provide an event that everybody in town could participate in, and I can't think of anything more symbolic of our town's character than that we're providing goods to those in need."

"I'm delighted to be a member of the committee" organizing the good drive, said Susan Barrett, a former state representative. "We're hard at work and everything is falling into place."

For more information about the food drive or to volunteer, visit: