When muskets salute the raising of East Hampton Town's 350th anniversary flag during Sunday's kickoff ceremony and celebration, a year of planning will come to fruition, and Bruce Collins, chairman of the anniversary committee, will breathe a sigh of relief.
Mr. Collins was tapped by Town Supervisor Cathy Lester a year ago to pull together the key players who will supervise the year's events marking the founding of the town. He has met twice a month since then with the members of his central and executive committees to brainstorm and plan.
"If I can get past Jan. 4, I'll be very happy," said Mr. Collins last week. "I think it's going to be an interesting year."
A former East Hampton Town Supervisor, Town Board member, Town Superintendent of Highways, and East Hampton Village Superintendent of Public Works, Mr. Collins was coaxed out of a planned retirement to head the anniversary commemoration. Plans to "spend more time with the family" were put on hold.
"Very reluctantly, I finally agreed to do it," he said. "I'm very glad I have."
In the course of the year the committee agreed on a core of celebratory events and alerted just about every school and civic, religious, or environmental group in town to the anniversary. Subcommittees were created to oversee finances, fund-raising, a monthly lecture series, the big October parade, and the souvenir map, calendar, and quilt.
Though he does not say so until pressed, the chairman of the celebration was "born and raised here, and my people, and the people before them."
"Through the Bennetts and the Kings and the Paynes," his lineage "goes back to the earliest times here."
While that makes Mr. Collins familiar with town history, he is not, he said, a historian.
"What I know is just by hook and crook."
Mr. Collins's work, and that of everyone else involved, is really just beginning as 1998 commences.
Various organizations are still making plans for tie-in projects that will be added to the lineup throughout the year. It will be a full one, already chock-full of events.