‘I was there’ centennial event draws large crowd

Greenwood Lake. As part of the village’s ongoing centennial celebrations, folks got to experience a reenactment of the historical village incorporation vote.

| 23 Mar 2024 | 02:21

Several hundred curious attendees visited Greenwood Lake’s Church of the Good Shepherd on Saturday, March 16, 2024, to join the cast of “I Was There,” a reenactment of the day that the community’s residents voted in favor of incorporation back in 1924, part of the continuing celebration of the village’s centennial year.

Nancy Clifford, co-director of the Centennial Committee, described the event as an historical tour de force: “What a great day; there were performances by the Greenwood Lake Theater, wonderful music by the Missyping Band, delicious food by the Laker Baker, the Elks provided wonderful drinks, and the many volunteers filled in where we needed them.” The Episcopal Church allowed the event to use its historical venue, where many of the early debates actually took place about political issues and the needs of the community. “What a great celebration to honor the beginnings of our village of Greenwood Lake,” continued Clifford.

In February 1924, the people of Greenwood Lake voted for incorporation; with 72 people attending, the vote was 52 in favor and 20 against. It took a while for the state to certify the vote and provide the articles of incorporation but the following month Greenwood Lake became an official village. The cast performed throughout the afternoon in 30-minute segments, and invited guests to interact with them when or if they felt like it. Cast members could be heard arguing about how a vote for incorporation would raise taxes or add levels of unnecessary bureaucracy to an administration and some of the women reminded the audience of the need to grant women more rights than just the right to vote, which had only recently been ratified by the 19th Amendment in 1920. Votes against, others argued, were not needed to address infrastructure projects that would benefit the residents: water, sewers, police, and fire protection. Punctuating the moments of debate were vaudeville acts which included singing, dancing, and a young man who claimed he could juggle three lemons. (He could not.) And newsies (some of the younger cast members) could be seen distributing copies of the Greenwood Lake commemorative village newspaper to the many guests.

John’s Automotive Restoration and Repair loaned an historic 1920s automobile, similar to the kind that began to travel the early roads to Greenwood Lake and eventually contributed to the demise of the railroad that had served the dozens of hotels that had located along the lake shore. Other members of the volunteer cast members included elected officials who dressed in period clothing. “We got a call the night before to wear a white shirt, dark trousers, and get ready to attach suspenders to your outfits,” reported Warwick Town Supervisor Jesse Dwyer, who, with Village Trustees Tom Howley and Nancy Clifford, plus Centennial Finance Committee Chair Thais Pilieri, rounded out the team who had dressed the part of “involved residents,” members of the volunteer cast.

The Missyping Band, meanwhile, serenaded the crowd with Melissa Pinglora Mahony on ukulele, with tunes like Tip-Toe Through the Tulips, Daisy-Daisy, and Bada-Bing-Bada Boom. Nearby were vendors providing refreshments, snacks, and information about upcoming events. To learn more about the Greenwood Lake Centennial, visit GWLCentenial.org.