Thousands turn out for Southwestern Vermont Health Care's 100th birthday party

BENNINGTON — Sunday was a day full of celebration on Southwestern Vermont Medical Center's campus as thousands of community members came together to commemorate the hospital's 100th anniversary.

Community Day, held on the 100th anniversary of the hospital's first day of accepting patients, saw a day full of food, games, and activities. Food and activities were free, and were styled in carnival fashion. There were also live performances that included music, gymnastics, and a circus show.

The day was shared with the Cancer Center Community Crusaders day of celebration, Cancer Survivors day, and their much anticipated Cupcake Challenge. Nearly 4,000 people were estimated to have attended the event, according to Ashley Jowett, communications specialist for Southwestern Vermont Health Care.

The festivities unfolded under bright blue skies, welcoming people of all ages. A wide range of vendors were featured at the event, offering jewelry, clothing, chocolate, kettle corn and more for sale. Proceeds from vendor sales went to help support local cancer patients and research.

Community Day kicked off with the United Counseling Service Go The Distance 5K and Kids' Fun Run, followed by a parade that proceeded up Hospital Drive from Dewey Street. The parade featured gymnastics, antique cars, Girl Scouts, United Counseling, and other contingents.

In addition to the running events, Southwestern Vermont Health Care attempted to break a world record for the largest jump rope road race. No record for the largest jump road race has ever been set.

Winners were Dale Oaks of Bennington for male youth, Madison Galipeau of Pownal for female youth, Shawn Salo of Bondville for male adult, and Christina Betit of Eagle Bridge, N.Y., for female adult.

Tatum Hill attended the event with her family. She described the day as being "fabulous" and that she liked seeing the community come together to celebrate the hospital. Hill recalled remembering when the hospital was called Putnam Memorial Hospital.

"It's a wonderful thing for the community to come together to celebrate the hospital's 100th birthday," Hill said, as she stood with her two granddaughters who had just gotten their faces painted. She said that each of the girls had been having a fun time throughout the event. They wanted to take part in everything that was offered.

"[Today] is actually going great," said Elizabeth Buttle, a sophomore at Mount Anthony Union High School who volunteered for the event with the school's Interact Club. She oversaw the corn hole game, where players had the opportunity to win a small prize.

"It started off slow, but then more people started coming in," she said. "A lot of the families have been very interactive."

The event was held by Southwestern Vermont Health Care, and presented by Mack Molding, Jerome Construction and the Bank of Bennington. Sponsors included Bennington Subaru, GVH Studio, Inc., Howard Printing, the Bennington Banner, the Manchester Journal, and many other local companies.

"We simply loved seeing our entire community join us in this historic celebration for our health system's 100th birthday," Jowett said. "Thank you to all who attended and to the many generous volunteers who made this event a success."


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