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For the past several years, Lynn Fredricksen has been involved in planning the Mayflower Society’s annual banquet, which will be held on Jan. 25. (Photo courtesy of Lynn Fredricksen )
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This weekend marks the Mayflower Society’s 125th annual banquet. For the past several years, Lynn Fredricksen has played a role in organizing the event and this Saturday, Jan. 25, the past toastmaster will pass on the beetle (a very large wooden hammer).
“A few years ago, Mike Freda called to ask if I would help him by being a raffle chair that year,” says Lynn. “When he called and asked, my reaction was ‘Wow, what an honor.’ I was privileged to have been able to do this.”
Chairing the raffles is the first step in a four-year process with the Mayflower Society. In the second year, Lynn moved to the secretary/treasurer position, which is responsible for sending the invitations to the banquet as well as dealing with payments, invoices, and banking.
After completing a year as secretary/treasurer, the next step is toastmaster. The toastmaster opens the program at the banquet. Lynn was the toastmaster last year. Now that she is the past toastmaster, she passes the beetle on to the current toastmaster.
“There’s a slight wrinkle this year because the woman moving up is out of town for the banquet, but her daughter is filling in for her,” says Lynn. “She was very excited and enthusiastic and wanted to get involved and did a great job at the raffle prizes, but she received a cruise as a gift during that time so her daughter will receive the beetle.”
The banquet honors those who came over on the Mayflower and begins with a cocktail hour during which guests can peruse the raffle prizes. After the cocktail hour, there is a procession of past toastmasters and the beetle is passed.
Before the sit-down dinner of a traditional Thanksgiving meal with turkey and potatoes, a proclamation is read as well as the Mayflower Compact. A priest does an invocation, along with other prayers at two other times during the event.
“It’s all very historic,” says Lynn. “We sing patriotic songs and there is a program following the meal. The event is fun with a lot of really nice raffle prizes.”
As the dinner has been going on for 125 years, there is a rich history and many traditions that are involved. When the banquet began, it was held in the Guild Room in the front of St. John’s Church.
“They used to have everyone bring their own silverware and dinnerware,” says Lynn. “It used to be a requirement that you had to be a descendant of someone who came over on the Mayflower, but they were running out of people so now anyone who’s interested can go.”
Lynn notes that after dinner, there is some kind of program. Last year she worked with a friend from the North Haven Historical Society to create a history of North Haven trivia game. Other past programs have been presented by history professors. This year, Steve Fontana will host the program.
“I know whatever it is, he will be eloquent, informed, and maybe a little bit funny from time to time,” Lynn says. “The raffles are then presented and people really seem to have fun with it.”
Lynn noted that local business and residents have been generous with donations. Popular items each year have included handmade items such as cutting boards by Bruce Dumelin and hand-turned wooden bowls by Walt Brockett.
“Last year I had my eye on Bruce’s beautiful cutting boards and I had my son put all of my tickets in for one, which I luckily won,” says Lynn. “Walt Brockett is part of family that’s been farming in town for generations and he has a hobby of working with old tools. Once a tree that fell on green and he took some of the wood and made a hand-turned bowl.”
Lynn is “really grateful” for the many businesses and organizations that donate to the raffle including the Daytime Gardeners, the North Haven Garden Club, Arnold’s Jewelers, Carol’s Creations, and Libero Jewelers. There are also many gift cards to restaurants and other area establishments.
The money raised from the raffle benefits the North Haven Historical Society (NHHS), which was formed as an offshoot of the Mayflower Society. Ann Clark of the NHHS noted that the Mayflower Society was founded by Sheldon Thorpe, the town’s “unofficial historian,” in the 1800s.
On March 28, 1927, a group of people involved in the Mayflower Society decided to form the NHHS, which later incorporated. The first president of the organization of H. Nelson Stiles.
“A number of people had been storing things in basements and attics that became the beginning of the collection,” says Clark.
Lynn has learned more about the NHHS over the years and is a “big fan.” Both she and her husband grew up in North Haven before living on the shoreline for several years. When their son went to college, they decided to return to North Haven as Lynn’s parents and other family still lived in town and in nearby Wallingford.
The couple has now been back in North Haven for more than two decades. Several years ago she began the Community Supper Ministry, which she has since stepped back from but she is “pumped that they’re still doing it.”
Lynn also chairs the town’s Blight Prevention Appeals Board and the Cemetery Commission. She spent 25 years working as a reporter and has been the membership director for the Hamden Regional Chamber of Commerce for the past five years.
Outside of work and her volunteer endeavors, Lynn enjoys trying new restaurants and baking, particularly pies. She is looking forward to this weekend’s event.
“There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes leading up to the event,” she says. “I made a commitment to Mike Freda and I’ve enjoyed being part of it and keeping the tradition going. I’m confident I’m leaving it in good hands with Kim Carew and Marylou Stamp.”
Get ready to celebrate the holidays with our helpful guide