Darien marks bicentennial, after a COVID delay, with a ‘very special celebration’ at Heritage Day

DARIEN — Visitors enjoyed a unique opportunity to learn a little about what life was like in Darien 200 years ago when they attended the town’s Heritage Day on Saturday.

The Museum of Darien, First Congregational Church of Darien and the Mather Homestead all took part in the event, which was part of the town’s COVID-delayed bicentennial celebration of its 1820 founding.

“I couldn’t ask for a more perfect day,” said Al Miller, who chairs the town’s Bicentennial Committee. “Or a more perfect bunch of volunteers.”

The Heritage Day celebration included a range of Colonial demonstrations as well as two detailed reenactments — two respective 1781 British raids on the Middlesex Meeting House and the Mather Farm.

“It’s exceeding all of my expectations,” he said of the activities. “And I think everybody is really enjoying it.”

Hundreds of spectators showed up at the church to see the many local residents who portrayed historic figures in the event, which centered on the Rev. Moses Mather, whose great, great, great, great granddaughter, Jane Nickerson, a Darien native, was on hand to witness.

“It’s a very special celebration,” she said, watching Board of Finance Chair Jon Zagrodsky playing her ancestor. “I’m thrilled to be here.”

The Rev. Denise Terry of the First Congregational Church of Darien said the town and church take their foundation for living out of history.

“We’re just delighted to have everybody here celebrating this historical moment,” she said.

State Rep. Terrie Wood (R-141), likewise, noted the importance of the past for the residents of Darien.

“Our history is where we learn so many of our values as a community,” she said.

Darien High School senior Lily Donzeiser, 17, a student leader for the Darien Museum’s school group, took part in the event and noted the important connections with the past.

“It’s still so relevant today,” she said. “We wouldn’t be here without all the things that have happened.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4) also paid a visit to the event, taking pride in his connection to the past.

“As a representative in the successor of the Continental Congress. … I just this this is a delightful reminder of where this area came from,” he said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the captions for the pictures of Tom Sephen and Kevin Garrity.