Alexander bicentennial: Young & old celebrate town's 200th

Aug 13, 2012


ALEXANDER — Cowpokes, country girls, several princesses, Darth Vader, a football player and a couple of action heroes showed up in Alexander Saturday for the town’s 200th anniversary celebration.



The above-listed luminaries were among the 21 participants who marched in the children’s parade on Church Street. There was a large contingent from McCormick Family Dairy Farm.



Jenny Reichert, adult daughter of farm founder Dan McCormick, had two children in the parade, Ryder, 3, who marched as a cowboy, and Chase, 9 months, dressed as an infant in a stroller.



Reichert drove an ATV that hauled the only float in the parade, a utility cart with two dairy calves penned in on it. She said it was just like a day at work.



“That’s how I take my calves down to the calf barn,” she said.



Ryder was asked whose cowboy hat he liked best.



“Mine,” the three-year-old said.



“I got this last night in the store,” Ryder said.



The youngster wore denim overalls and a white hat. He also sported brand-new black cowboy boots, which his mom bought for him at this year’s Attica Rodeo.



Ryder’s cousins, Dylan Pohl, 5, and Melanie Pohl, 7, also marched Saturday dressed as cowboys.



Dylan was outfitted with a black hat, canvas Carhartt coveralls and well-worn boots. Asked if he walked the parade route or hitched a ride with the calves, Dylan said it was some of each.



“First I walked, then I rided, then I walked,” he said.



Dylan said he liked the parade “because I got to pass out stuff along the way.”



The McCormick children handed out half-pint cartons of milk to spectators and marchers. The milk was donated by Upstate Milk Cooperative.



Town Supervisor Joe Higley was master of ceremonies for the official part of Saturday’s celebration. Several hundred people attended the event on the lawn of Town Hall.



Higley welcomed residents and dignitaries who attended including Unites States Rep. Kathy Hochul, State Assemblymen Dan Burling and Steve Hawley and county Legislator Esther Leadley.



The town supervisor touched briefly on the history of the community, founded by Alexander Ray in 1812. Ray was a surveyor for the Holland Land Office and purchased the property through his employer.



“In 1812 the United States Constitution was only 23 years old. Genesee County was only 10 years old,” Higley said.



Hochul, a former Hamburg Town Council member, said anniversary milestones are good opportunities for communities to “take a minute out of your daily lives and reflect.”



The congresswoman said the late Barber Conable, is “still spoken about in revered terms” in Washington D.C.



Conable, an attorney and Alexander resident, served in the House for 20 years. He was voted by his peers as the most respected member of Congress and, after he retired, served as president of the World Bank.



Burling, who lived in the town for 27 years before moving to Warsaw, said “It’s good to see my friends and neighbors.”



He said his children all graduated from Alexander High School. Burling, who is retiring from public service this year, got political, but only for moment.



“I think all politicians should have term limits, not only on their terms of office but on their speeches as well,” he joked.



Leadler, the county lawmaker who represents the town, lives in Pavilion but said Alexander has always been part of her life. Her father and a local dairy farmer helped form a milk cooperative in the area, she said.



Jerome Grasso presented a proclamation from state Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer in recognition of the town’s bicentennial. Higley also accepted similar proclamations or commendations from Hochul, Leadley, Burling and Hawley.



Alexander postmaster Tammy Wollenberg had a booth set up where she sold items stamped with a special Alexander bicentennial postmark.



“We went through the approval process and had one of these made,” Wollenberg said.



Saturday was the only day the postmark could be stamped on items mailed from Alexander, she said.



Boy Scouts sold hot dogs and hamburgers at one stand. Girl Scout Troop 42249 sold baked goods at another.



Girl Scouts Mary Guarino and Mckenzie Haller and their troop leaders were all garbed in period costumes, the long cotton dresses and bonnets reminiscent of the television show “Little House on the Prairie.”



The outfits, borrowed from the high school drama club, invoked the early 1800s, “because that’s when Alexander was first starting out,” Mckenzie said.



Cupcakes and brownies were baked by Mary, 14, and Mckenzie, 13. They worked for two days in the kitchen of Alexander United Methodist Church.



The teenagers also ran a “duck pond game,” where contestants fished items out of a kiddie pool to redeem them for prizes.



Saturday was a family affair for the Hallers and Guarinos.



Colette Guarino, adult co-leader of the Girls Scouts and mother of Mary, helped with the baked goods table and her husband, Richard, is a member of the school board and Village Board.



Mr. Guarino also helped research the bicentennial pamphlet on sale Saturday, “Alexander: A Retrospective of the First 200 Years.”



Lisa Haller, mother of Mckenzie, is leader of the Girl Scout troop and also assisted with the baked goods sale. Her husband, Roy Haller III, is a town councilman.



“That’s what’s great about Alexander. We’re one big family,” Mrs. Haller said.



Higley, the town supervisor, said he was pleased with the day’s activities and turnout.



“It came together beautifully,” he said.