The date was February 5, 1813. James and Dolley Madison resided in the White House. The United States, at that point 18 in number since the inclusion of Louisiana the previous year, was engaged in a bitter war with Great Britain. It would still be another year and a half until Francis Scott Key would pen the Star-Spangled Banner at Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor. Locally, the Weymouth Furnace was a major supplier of shot and bombs to the United States government for the war effort. And in Trenton, another historic event was taking place.
On that date, Hamilton was incorporated as a township by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature. The new township, created from portions of Weymouth and Egg Harbor Townships, became part of Gloucester County. It would be another 24 years until Hamilton Township would become part of the newly-created Atlantic County, with Mays Landing selected as the county seat.
To commemorate the bicentennial, the township has planned a two-day celebration in June. It will, for one year, replace the townshipâ€™s popular annual Hometown Celebration. Each year the township has held this event on Main Street on the Saturday before the Fourth of July. This yearâ€™s event will move to Lake Lenape Park on June 29 and 30, to better accommodate expected large crowds.
The event is being co-sponsored by the Township of Hamilton and the Mays Landing Merchants Association. Roger Silva, last yearâ€™s mayor, who is serving as deputy mayor in 2013, has spearheaded the project for the township.
â€śThe 200th birthday of the Township of Hamilton is a historic milestone that deserves a gala celebration,â€ť Silva said. He is especially pleased to see the return of fireworks over Lake Lenape at dusk on the second night. Other attractions for the weekend include a variety of exhibitors, family picnics in the park, entertainment including a battle of the bands, activities for children and a car show sponsored by Auto Plaza.
Mays Landing Merchants Association President John Kurtz said he is excited to see the change in location and also having it become a two-day event.
â€śWhile it was great to showcase the businesses on Main Street, this gives us an opportunity to greatly expand the program,â€ť Kurtz said. â€śIn the past, parking was always an issue, as was the closing of Main Street and the resultant traffic issues. At the park, we will have plenty of parking, and there will be cost savings due to the lessened need for public safety personnel and also the cleanup after the event. The two day event is also helping to attract sponsors who will get more bang for their buck. In fact, Pepsi and Acme Markets are already on board.â€ť
Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor or exhibitor can contact Arlene Blosch at (609) 625-1800. More information will be available on the association website â€“ www.MaysLandingMerchants.com â€“ beginning in February.
No doubt, one of the most popular exhibits on that June weekend will be the display of the Hamilton Township Historical Society that will showcase how the Township of Hamilton has evolved from that fateful day in 1813 to become the largest, and one of the most diverse municipalities in New Jersey in 2013. You have to wonder how many state legislators in 1813 would have envisioned that.
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