LITTLETON — The man who was instrumental in bringing creatively painted pianos to the sidewalks of Main Street and beyond last summer was honored Saturday with the 2012 Pollyanna Signature Award.
Dave Ernsberger, seasonal resident of Littleton, received the award at the 10th Anniversary Pollyanna Glad Day.
Speaking on the front steps of the Littleton Public Library, with the bronze sculpture of Pollyanna looking on, Karen Keazirian, executive director of Pollyanna of Littleton New Hampshire, Inc., noted Ernsberger’s wonderful contribution in the Be Glad/Make Music project and his community spirit.
“He directed the contagious idea of open pianos for interactive street music, provided initiative and business momentum; at every turn he persisted with solutions, gladness and optimism,” the 2012 Pollyanna Glad Day booklet reads.
Ernsberger, a retired IBM executive, said, “Nancy and I love this town.” Where else, he asked, could you find people who do so much for each other? He called the town, which has won several best in the country designations, “a wonderful welcoming community.”
That welcome was extended to the youngest at the celebration. Two young ladies, Maggie Hadlock of Littleton and Caleigh Bousquin of Exeter, were dressed in the cotton frocks fancied by the ever-optimistic girl herself, both with their hair in pigtails underneath summer hats. The girls made the children in the crowd feel at home, taking time to talk with four-year-old twins Mary and Elizabeth Lopes of Littleton, and making sure they got the best wishes signatures of siblings Angela, Isabell, and Collin Dorazio of Littleton on the Pollyanna poster.
Maggie Hadlock said she’s enjoyed being Pollyanna for two years now.
Caleigh’s mother, Kathleen Murphy, said her daughter first came to the annual event with her grandmother and cousin. Murphy said she read the Pollyanna story to Caleigh at a young age, and that she fits the role. “Caleigh’s always got a smile on her face.”
Eleanor Hodgman Porter, author of “Pollyanna”, was born in and grew up in Littleton. She created the beloved storybook character in 1913. The sculpture on the library lawn of Pollyanna was unveiled in 2002, the culmination of a public/private partnership. The Eames family commissioned the sculpture, which is the work of New Hampshire artist Emile Birch. Afterward, they established the Pollyanna of Littleton nonprofit organization.
The afternoon was capped with the annual group photo of attendees — which included several past signature award honorees — giving the official cameraman the Pollyanna Welcome wave. The group of Pollyanna fans of all ages held the pose several times for the photographer. Pollyanna, smiling broadly beneath her wide-brimmed straw hat, stood in the back, and held her arms out in the welcome wave the longest.