PERU — Under a deep blue and wide open sky marred only by the profusion of utility wires that are so conspicuous in the center of this town, some 400 persons watched what is believed to have been the first formal parade ever held here.

The parade, about an eighth of a mile long, began about a mile east of the top of the hill which is considered the center of the town and which is the site of the “highest church in Massachusetts.”

The parade moved west up the hill and around the town green. A picnic followed, marking the end of this town’s four-day bicentennial celebration.

Included in the line of march were the town fire department’s newly painted light green fire truck, a 40-piece fife and drum corps from Holyoke, and floats made up by the Worthington Rod and Gun Club, Camp Danbee, the Dorothy Rice Sanctuary and the Mohawk Hydraulic Co.

The parade topped four days of activity that included square dancing at the Peru Center School Friday night, a fair Saturday, followed by a dinner at the school, and a morning-long service at the Peru Congregational Church Sunday. Speaker at the church Sunday, Dr. Leonard Swift of Hofstra University, related the history of the town. Sunday evening, residents gathered for an hour and a half of hymn singing.

The dancing Friday night was attended by about 90 persons. Music was provided by Bud Cahill’s orchestra, with calling done by the town constable and assistant fire chief Robert Steele. Dress for the occasion was period costumes of the 1770 era, with proceeds from the event going to the police and fire departments.

Saturday opened with a fair at the Center School at which items depicting the history of the town were displayed and sold.

Some display items came from the various private dumps in the town. Included in this category were old bottles, a clock, parts of lamps, a china doll and a candle holder.

A prize historical item displayed was a deed to Alpheur Greer, dated 1770, for the “Little Farm” now known as the “Sunset Farm.”

The fair was followed by a dinner with a 1770 menu that had taken 12 hours to prepare. On the menu were homemade breads and pies, freshly churned butter, pot roast of beef, succotash and milkweed greens. The dinner drew about 200 persons, who were served by waitresses in costume.

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.