The Tricentennial of the Bellmores, Long Island, New York, 1976

Authored by Sara Alcorn

Car Bumper Sticker from the Bellmore Historical Society celebrating the Tricentennial of the Bellmores, New York, 1976.

Car Bumper Sticker from the Bellmore Historical Society celebrating the Tricentennial of the Bellmores, New York, 1976.

As the United Sates of America was welcoming their bicentennial independence, a small town on Long Island was gearing up to celebrate the three hundredth birthday of their community with pride and public service.

 

Bellmore, New York is located on the south shore of Long Island in Nassau County, about thirty-six miles from Manhattan. A town of about 16,000[1] is over three hundred years old, one hundred years older than the United States itself. Originally founded in 1676 by a Dutch settler named Jeremiah Smith[2], The Bellmores began as a small family farm. Although continuing as a farm portioned off to Smith heirs[3], the addition of the railroad in 1867[4] turned Bellmore from a family owned homestead to a thriving community.

Three hundred years after the founding of Bellmore the town—considered ‘The Bellmores”, as it was comprised of North and South Bellmore—began their yearlong celebration of the Tricentennial of The Bellmores. To kick off the celebration bumper stickers were handed out amongst the spectators of the New Years Day parade by the Bellmore Historical Society, and then sold for fifty cents a piece thereafter[5]. The bumper stickers would be the tip of the iceberg of Bellmore’s Tricentennial celebrations. Girl Scouts painted the town’s fire hydrants red, white, and blue[6], the North Bellmore Library created two displays of Bellmore history[7], and the elementary schools created Bellmore History pageants to be performed at the end of the school year[8].

Other such novelties were created and sold to garner Tricentennial pride. A beer stein was sold at the Sunrise Village Inn[9] and murals of the founding fathers and Smiths were painted on the 100 year old post office walls[10]. However, the Tricentennial bumper sticker remained the most notable. The Bellmore Life newspaper began a competition to see how far away the bumper stickers could be found[11], with pictures to be published in the newspaper. Tricentennial Bumper stickers were seen on cars in Oregon[12], Utah[13], West Germany[14], and most interestingly Cuba[15].

The Tricentennial bumper sticker became the signature of Bellmore, appearing on cars, trucks, and even the Bellmore-Merrick Ambulance[16]. However, the bumper sticker signified more than a celebration, but of the community’s dedication to service. Through the Tricentennial celebrations Bellmore raised money for a town college scholarship[17], hosted environmental town clean ups[18], and raised funds to be donated to the American Red Cross[19]. The Bellmores turned their celebration into a community organized public service event. This dedication to serve those who cannot serve themselves lies in direct correlation with St. John’s Vincentian mission. This town’s celebration of life and history is what drove me to feature this artifact that became a symbol around the world.

References

[1] “Chamber of Commerce of the Bellmores.” Chamber of Commerce of the Bellmores. Accessed March 19, 2016. http://bellmorechamber.com/community/history-of-bellmore/.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Glen Ellman. “Celebrate the Tricentennial.” Bellmore Life, January 7, 1976.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Robert Edwards. “Library to Display History.” Bellmore Life, March 3,1976.

[8] Lea Valinoti. “Bellmore Continues 300 Years of Service.” Bellmore Life, February 18, 1976.

[9] Sunrise Village Inn. “Tricentennial Mugs on Sale,” April 7, 1976.

[10] Glen Ellman. “Celebrate the Tricentennial.” Bellmore Life, January 7, 1976.

[11] Ibid.

[12] “As Far West As a Bellmorite Can Go.” Bellmore Life, May 12, 1976.

[13] “All Over USA.” Bellmore Life, April 7, 1976.

[14] “All Over the World!” Bellmore Life, June 23, 1976.

[15] “From Cuba!” Bellmore Life, April 21, 1976.

[16] Lea Valinoti. “Bellmore Continues 300 Years of Service.” Bellmore Life, February 18, 1976.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

Bibliography

“All Over USA.” Bellmore Life, April 7, 1976.

“All Over the World!” Bellmore Life, June 23, 1976.

“As Far West As a Bellmorite Can Go.” Bellmore Life, May 12, 1976.

“Chamber of Commerce of the Bellmores.” Chamber of Commerce of the Bellmores. Accessed March 19, 2016. http://bellmorechamber.com/community/history-of-bellmore/.

Edwards, Robert. “Library to Display History.” Bellmore Life, March 3,1976.

Ellman, Glen. “Celebrate the Tricentennial.” Bellmore Life, January 7, 1976

“From Cuba!” Bellmore Life, April 21, 1976.

Sunrise Village Inn. “Tricentennial Mugs on Sale,” April 7, 1976.

Valinoti, Lea. “Bellmore Continues 300 Years of Service.” Bellmore Life, February 18, 1976.

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