LITTLETON — A new law makes the second Saturday in June “Pollyanna of Littleton New Hampshire Recognition Day.”
Dozens of people of all ages gathered Saturday under blue skies and a bright sun on the lawn of the Littleton Public Library to celebrate the 17th anniversary of the unveiling of the bronze statue of Pollyanna. Pollyanna is the literary creation of Littleton author Eleanor H. Porter (1868-1920).
The new law was frequently invoked at the celebration.
Signed on June 6 by Gov. Chris Sununu, House Bill 572, which was sponsored by Rep. Linda Massimilla, D-Littleton, and co-sponsored by Rep. Erin Hennessey, R-Littleton, hails the Pollyanna statue “as an attraction and a welcoming symbol of the gladness and optimism of the people of New Hampshire.”
It requires the governor to annually “urge schools, libraries, and citizens to commemorate the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities,” something the residents of Littleton have been doing since 2002 when the Pollyanna statute, which was commissioned by the Eames family and created by artist Emile Birch, was installed at the Littleton Public Library.
Beginning in 2003 with the first Pollyanna Glad Day, the nonprofit Pollyanna of Littleton New Hampshire Inc. has marked the occasion with a ceremony that includes a brief history about Porter, proclamations from the sitting governor and the Littleton Board of Selectmen, music, and the presentation of the Pollyanna Signature Award.
The ceremony ends with a group photo in front of the Pollyanna statue, with participants making like Pollyanna — smiling broadly with their heads thrown back and arms wide open and outstretched to embrace the world.
The 2019 recipient of the award was Massimilla, a Massachusetts native who has lived in Littleton for some four decades and who was a teacher in the nearby town of Lisbon for 36 years until her retirement in 2006.
Currently in her fourth term as a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, Massimilla epitomizes the Pollyanna spirit in her optimistic attitude and her perseverance, said Karen Keazirian.
Keazirian — a longtime organizer of the Pollyanna Glad Day observances and herself a Signature Award honoree — pointed out that 2019 is a significant year for Massimilla.
Not only did Massimilla’s work with the “Bienvenue au New Hampshire” initiative come to fruition with the introduction of marketing materials to welcome French-speaking visitors to the Granite State, Keazirian said, but Massimilla also successfully worked to get HB572 approved by the New Hampshire House and Senate.
Keazirian joked that, with the latter accomplishment, now “it’s the law to be glad.”