By Jenni Culkin
There is cause for celebration among Smithtown residents this year. The town was founded 350 years ago, and the Smithtown Historical Society is preparing to get its residents involved in festivities and immersion in the town’s proud history.
“This town has been inhabited for 350 years,” said Kiernan Lannon, executive director of the Smithtown Historical Society. “It’s self-evident that this is a milestone!”
Lannon said the Smithtown Historical Society’s mission is to “preserve and present the town’s history,” and in order to develop an itinerary for the 350th annual celebration, the town’s historical society developed the 350 Foundation — a group of volunteers comprised of representatives from various organizations in the town.
On March 3rd, 1665, Richard Smythe, the town’s founder, was granted the Nicholls Patent. The patent gave him the right to the territory that encompasses present-day Smithtown. Originally, it was believed that Smythe was told that he could have all of the territory that he could circumnavigate on the back of a bull.
The bull story is so important that it has become the icon that represents Smithtown. The bull statue, affectionately named “Whisper the Bull,” welcomes residents as they enter the town boundaries.
The story proved to be only a legend, but it still has a place in this year’s celebration of the town’s history.
The Bull Smythe Relay is proof that the bull story is still sentimental to the people of Smithtown. The relay is the first of the 350th anniversary events that the 350 Foundation is planning, scheduled for March 1, which will mimic the torch relays that are performed during the Olympics.
The relay will cover approximately 36 miles within the town, each mile sponsored by a different person, organization or family. The public is welcome to come and watch the Bull Smythe Relay and support the participants.
Town historian Bradley Harris helped spearhead the planning of this year’s 350th celebration after Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio penned a letter to him asking him to help plan the events.
Only two days after the relay, on March 3, there will be a special town board meeting. A time capsule opening will follow the meeting. The capsule was buried in 1965, during the town’s 300th anniversary celebration.
Town Councilwoman Lynne Nowick says that she can remember attending the 300th anniversary and said the events were historically a great historical celebration for the Town of Smithtown.
“The 350 committee is doing a fabulous job,” she said.
The dedicated 350 Foundation has a tentative calendar of events stretching from late February to December of this year. Not all of these events are held by the historical society.
The Smithtown Performing Arts Center is also hosting a musical performance called “The Spirit of Smithtown,” which will be playing in late May and early June. The Smithtown Library is also formulating a schedule of events that is to be announced within the last few weeks of February. Even the public schools in Smithtown’s school districts are planning an art show and contest.