STRATHAM — According to the latest U.S. Census information (2013) the town of Stratham has a population of almost 7,300 people. From the look of the crowds that lined Portsmouth Avenue Sunday, almost every one of those inhabitants, along with quite a few out-of-towners, came out to see the culminating event of the community’s tricentennial celebration, the 300th anniversary parade.
Contingents from as far away as Merrimack, New Hampshire, and Lexington, Massachusetts, joined Stratham committees, officials, organizations and individuals in an hour-long event that closed Portsmouth Avenue, from Squamscott Road to the Route 108 traffic circle. Aside from the traditional high school marching bands, parade of fire equipment, antique cars, political candidates and Scout troops, this year’s parade featured 13 floats created by townspeople.
“They were all amazing,” said Carol Hazekamp, the parade’s float chairman. “The float creators did a lot of work with a lot of attention to detail.
“They made the parade exceptional,” Hazekamp said.
Three judges reviewed the floats. They were Sonja Jacobson of Sonja Jacobson Skin Care and Make Up Studio in Stratham; John HazeKamp, a graphic artist with a studio in Dover, who has been a town School Board member and Stratham Fair treasurer; and Katrina Loudon, a wellness coach from Dover.
Using criteria such as keeping with the 300th anniversary theme, appearance, uniqueness, difficulty of construction, use of flowers and costumes, the judges selected four floats for awards.
Taking fourth place was the float created by the staff and patrons of the Stratham Memorial Library and coming in third was the float built and manned by the Chase Family Descendants.
Second place went to the float and participants of the Stratham 300th Anniversary Play, while the grand prize was awarded to the staff, children and parents of the Stratham Memorial School of which about 200 took part in Sunday’s parade.
Lena Shaheen, 7, watched the parade from the bed of her uncle Matt Kushner’s pickup truck surrounded by 15 members of her family, including three aunts, as well as seven cousins, all age seven or under. She took special pride in her school taking the grand prize in the float competition.
“I helped make five of the houses (mockups of old area school houses that students carried in the parade),” Lena said. “I like celebrating my town’s 300th birthday.”
Stephen Snow came to Stratham two years ago from Yarmouthport on Cape Cod. He said he loves how “wonderfully quiet” his new community is and was out with his daughter, Jennifer Senechal of Hampton, and her mother and stepmother, Betsey and Sheila Snow, taking in the beautiful weather and the parade.
“I came out to celebrate my town’s 300th anniversary,” Stephen said. “I also went to the dinner at Stratham Hill (that was another event associated with the 300th anniversary celebration), and did some wining and dining. It was a great night.”
Jeremy Averill came to the parade with his wife, Hannah, and his three children: Dez, 5; Caitlin, 4; and Evelinah, 2. The Averills are expecting their fourth child shortly.
“We came out to celebrate our town’s 300th birthday,” Jeremy said. “The kids are really excited to see the vehicles.”
Stratham was settled in 1631 and incorporated in 1716. The area, called Winnicutt by the Pennacook Indians, was known as Squamscott Patent or Point of Rocks because of its location between Great Bay and the Squamscott River. The sixth town in the colony to be incorporated, the town was named for Wriothesley Russell, Baron Howland of Streatham, a friend of New Hampshire Royal Governor Samuel Shute.