To help buoy the community’s spirit and lend a hand to local establishments navigating during a turbulent time, the Museum of Darien (formerly the Darien Historical Society) is joining forces with town organizations and businesses to celebrate the town’s 200th birthday this summer with a symbol loaded to the gills with Darien’s proud history —the Whaleboat Middlesex.

While the COVID-19 crisis has taken the wind out of the sails of many community celebrations, the 24-foot whaleboat replica is a safe way for residents to celebrate the town’s history and spirit. The boat will be featured in various Darien locations throughout the summer starting Saturday July 11, and residents will be able to participate in contests on social media with a chance to win prizes.

“We could all use a boost right now with a local project that reminds people of all ages about the great community we live in. We’re hoping the Middlesex will serve as a reminder of Darien’s proud Revolutionary past, and also our community’s resiliency,” said Robert J. Pascal, Jr., president of the museum’s board of directors.

Intending to educate the community about the whaleboat wars on Long Island Sound during the Revolution, the Society led a community-wide effort to build the boat in the 1970s, and eventually donated it to the Maritime Center, where it had been displayed for years outdoors. After several decades away and a year-long restoration project, the whaleboat has been refurbished, thanks to a generous $14,000 grant from The Darien Foundation.

“There is a real spirit of community in the story of the Middlesex Whaleboat, which brought the town together for a team effort in 1976,” said Sarah Woodberry, executive director of The Darien Foundation. “Now the Middlesex will help bring our neighbors and businesses together again as we all reconnect over the summer.”

This summer, the boat will appear at an undisclosed town location once every week starting on July 11. Hints about the boat’s location will be posted on the MoD’s website and social media pages of MoD, The Darien Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce.

Residents are encouraged to locate the boat at its newest location, take a selfie, and post to the Museum of Darien’s Facebook page. Prizes will be announced on Friday morning for the most original whaleboat post of the week, and the first post holding up a bag or purchased item from the local retailer featured in that week’s contest. At the end of the season, there will be prizes for the best photo of the boat, for the most active business in the contest, and for the most active participants.

Where’s the Boat?

Here are some clues for upcoming locations of the Whaleboat Middlesex. Check our websites for new clues and locations throughout the summer!

Saturday, July 11 from 1 to 3 p.m. — The Middlesex will be at a business located at the “edge” of a pond, located near the town’s earliest settlement.

Friday, July 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. — The boat will be “booked” at this beloved town institution, which is celebrating its 127th anniversary this year.

Saturday, July 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Look for the boat to be looking its “sporty” best with balloons at this business, which first opened its doors in 1947.

Saturday, Aug. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — This business is one of the best on the “market” and is celebrating its 99th year in Darien!

Saturday, Aug. 8 (time tbd) — Two children’s book titles hold clues to this week’s location of the Whaleboat Middlesex: JK Rowling’s second book in the Harry Potter series, and a Shel Silverstein classic picture book.

Wednesday, Aug. 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — The earliest female settlers in Middlesex Parish would be gratified to see these tents popping up at this location amongst several small businesses.

Saturday, Aug. 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Established in 1909, there’s no “end” in sight for the success of this growing business, and it’s one of the oldest in town!

Saturday, Sept. 19 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — This new business opened just last year in Noroton Heights, and is already “storing” up good ties in the community.

About the Museum of Darien

Established in 1953 as the Darien Historical Society, the Museum of Darien welcomes all ages to experience and discover the crafted objects, narratives and works of art that have shaped this community.

For more information, visit: museumofdarien.org or call 203-655-9233

About The Darien Foundation

The Darien Foundation is an independent, community-based, 501(c)(3) public charity. Since 1998, The Darien Foundation has awarded more than $4.5 million in grants for technology and capital initiatives which create opportunity for Darien’s youth, support our town’s safety and security services, and enhance the overall quality of life in Darien. Our volunteer Board of Directors reflects the many constituencies of Darien, thoroughly evaluates grant requests, and assists grant recipients in achieving their goals. Most recently, The Darien Foundation has awarded grants to Corbin Cares, DAF Media, The Darien Nature Center, the Darien Police Department, Darien TV79, The Depot Youth Center, The Mather Homestead, the Museum of Darien, and Person-to-Person. For more information, visit: darienfoundation.org.