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Littleton's Pollyanna Glad Day celebrates local author and the eternally optimistic character she created

Union Leader Correspondent

June 10. 2018 9:41PM

The bronze statue of Pollyanna, billed as New Hampshire's “Most Welcoming Attraction,” was the center of attention on Saturday during the 16th annual Pollyanna Glad Day celebration on the lawn of the Littleton Public Library. Dressed as Pollyanna, Hailee Beane, struck the signature Pollyanna pose and was joined by dozens of other folks. (John Koziol)

Holding their plaques recognizing them as the 2018 Pollyanna Glad Day Signature Award winners, Erin Hennessey and her husband John, joined by their children Claire and Luke in the back row, pose for a photo on Saturday in front of the Pollyanna statue with past award recipients. (John Koziol)

LITTLETON — The gladdest town in New Hampshire on Saturday celebrated the 150th year of the birth of author Eleanor H. Porter, whose Pollyanna character always found something good, even in the most difficult of times.

Known as Pollyanna Glad Day, the event, for the first time in several years, was back on the lawn of the Littleton Public Library, the southwestern portion of which boasts a slightly-oversized bronze statue of Pollyanna with her head held high and arms open and flung back.

Born on Dec. 19, 1868 in Littleton, in a house that still stands and is next door to the library, Porter introduced Pollyanna to the world in a 1903 novel of the same name.

Since 2002, when, thanks to the generosity of the Eames family and the creativity of sculptor Emile Birch, the Pollyanna statue was installed, the town has annually held a Pollyanna Glad Day to honor not only Porter and Pollyanna, but the noble qualities that the latter personifies.

The highlight of the event is the presentation of the Pollyanna Signature Award to a person or persons “who exhibit the character and spirit exemplified in the personality of Pollyanna — living positively and inspiring gladness in an outstanding way.”

For 2018, the Signature Award winners were John and Erin Hennessey.

The husband and wife met as students at Boston College, where they each majored in business finance. They worked throughout the country as CPAs, began a family and about a decade ago, decided to return to their native Littleton.

John is currently the CFO of the Littleton Coin Co., one of the town’ largest employers, and is also chairman of the River District Redevelopment Commission whose ongoing charge includes the imminent reconfiguration of parts of Saranac Street along the Ammonoosuc River.

Erin is a two-term state representative for Littleton and Bethlehem and the vice chair of the House’s Division III Finance Committee.

The Hennesseys also serve on several boards of directors in and around Littleton, said Dave Ernsberger, the 2012 Signature Award recipient, and together they reflect the many traits of a modern Pollyanna in “living, loving and leading in our small community.”

John Hennessey said he and his wife were honored to receive the Signature Award.

“Littleton’s a great community filled with great people,” he said, “and we’re just proud to be part of it.”

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