The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 25, 2005


"This town is your town" Video documentary of Carlisle's Old Home Day 2005

Sing the following to the tune of "This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie: "This town is your town, this town is my town; from the Great Brook farmland, to the Banta playground; from the old town forest to the Concord River, Carlisle is here for you and me." If you were at last summer's Old Home Day celebration (particularly the Ice Cream Social and Music Cavalcade), it is likely you heard this song, with these appropriate lyrics, performed by The Second Wind barbershop quartet.

In a new, beautifully filmed and edited documentary on Old Home Day 2005, it is this song performed by these Carlisle musicians that starts out and sets the tone. "This Town is Your Town" started as 17 hours worth of videotape filmed this past June 25 and 26 at the Old Home Day Bicentennial celebration, and is now a 90-minute DVD that brings Old Home Day to vivid life.

"This was a labor of love," says Dave Reed, director, editor and occasional narrator of the documentary, who says he and his committee labored "four long, hard months to get this edited in time for Christmas." The DVD will be offered for sale at the Christmas Greens Sale on December 3 at the First Religious Society for $10, and will be, Reed says, the key fundraiser to support the next Old Home Day.

Both the labor and the love that went into this documentary are clearly evident. Even a person not acquainted with Carlisle could view this film and see that this is a small town well loved. Carlisle's spirit is seen clearly, for example, in the faces of children at the frog-jumping contest and the sack race, grandparents cutting pancakes for young grandchildren at the Congregational Church Pancake Breakfast, volunteers serving up food, and town officials judging the pie contest and subjecting themselves to the dunking booth. From the 30th Annual Carlisle Road Races on the morning of June 25 to the spectacular fireworks display the evening of June 26, these two days of town celebration have been lovingly preserved. And in the background of all the beautiful footage is Carlisle itself, with its lush green woods and birdsong.

Reed points out that leading the camera crew for this documentary was Maureen McNamara, whose credits include filming for Steven Speilberg's "Holocaust." He adds that all of the editing and encoding time was donated, work that could have cost anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000. "Our objective, however, was to create a record of historic value that is inestimable," he says.

One of the most interesting challenges in completing "This Town is Your Town" was getting permission to use copyrighted music, says Reed. The journey had him in contact with Neil Diamond's offices, for example, and the firm that maintains rights for Woody Guthrie's family. Perhaps the greatest thrill, says Reed, was being able to talk directly to Bobby Sharp, the 81-year old who wrote "Unchain My Heart" as a young man. "He said he didn't want to take our money," for permission to use his song, Reed says.

All the elements of the Old Home Day celebration are here, along with commentary by Carlisleans. There is footage of raising of the flag, the Road Races, Pancake Breakfast, Carlisle Minutemen, and awards for Conservationist of the Year (Alex Parra) and Outstanding Citizens (Lee and Art Milliken). Then there is the parade, featuring llamas, donkeys and ponies, the 1865 hearse presented by the Carlisle Historical Society, and Ed Lemire in his final Old Home Day appearance (before moving to New Jersey) in a convertible, a proud World War II veteran. Then come the children on bikes and scooters, local organizations throwing candy, and the award-winning parade entries: the third place Noah's Ark Cake, second place First Religious Society Precision Umbrella Team, and the first place Concord Street Birthday Party, featuring a huge birthday cake. Games are also featured: the sack race, three-legged race, egg toss and corn-shucking contest, the pet show, art show and bread-baking contest. There's music and food, and the Country Fair with booths ranging from children selling cupcakes to professional artisans selling their wares.

The final hours of Old Home Day were captured as well, as 200 candles were distributed to the crowd and lit, and everyone sang "Happy Birthday, Dear Carlisle." The footage of the fireworks is nearly as breathtaking as the real thing.

Copies of the "This Town is Your Town" documentary on DVD will be available at the First Religious Society on December 3 and if any copies are left, at, or by calling Dave Reed directly, at 1-978-369-8948.

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito