When the decision was made this summer to permanently close the Memorial Bridge to motor vehicle traffic, Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine, residents felt they needed to say goodbye and give the bridge a proper send-off.
On Saturday, the "Lift Off" party sponsored by the Prescott Park Arts Festival, 3S Art Space, and the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce did just that with live music, food, fireworks and a very special ceremony.
Former Portsmouth Mayor Eileen Foley, 93, was just five years old when she cut the ribbon to officially open the Memorial Bridge in 1923. With dozens of Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine, officials and residents present, Foley tied a blue ribbon around the bridge's plaque bringing both of their lifespans full circle.
"Thank you very much for this afternoon. I will never forget it," Foley said.
A new bridge is scheduled to be constructed in 2014 and Foley promised, "In two years, I'll be back."
Portsmouth Mayor Tom Ferrini said the Memorial Bridge has always made the city and Kittery feel connected as one community. "Let's stay connected," he said.
He said turnout of Seacoast area residents on what was a rainy, drizzling day for the bridge's farewell party is a testament to how much people care.
"The continuity in our community is that everyone cares so much," he said.
Ferrini said it was good the community had a party to celebrate the Memorial Bridge and give it a proper send off.
"There needed to be some sort of sense of closure and resolution," he said.
The party also made it easier to look ahead to what will be a new bridge to keep Portsmouth and Kittery connected.
"Today was a very special day," said New Hampshire Department of Transportation Commissioner Chris Clement. "Now we can start the process to replace it."
Clement said the new bridge will embody the history of both communities when it is completed in 2014.
What follows is an image gallery that captures the many sights of Saturday's "Lift Off" party for the Memorial Bridge.