By Larry Claflin Jr.
Since 1966, Beverly residents have looked forward to a summer tradition, Beverly Homecoming, where they can see friends and neighbors, listen to live music, participate in athletic events, or take in the final-day fireworks.
In fact, organizers said, former Beverly residents often plan their vacations around Homecoming, flying back from the West Coast, England or other overseas locations.
"I get phone calls from people more than a year in advance, asking when Homecoming is," said Bruce Doig, Beverly Homecoming's president. "People come home for vacations every year to see all their friends, to take part in Lobster Fest and the fireworks at Lynch Park."
In fact, many high school classes plan their reunions around Homecoming, said Doig, who is also the city's recreation director.
This year, Beverly Homecoming will take place July 30 through Aug. 8 around the city, with many events based at Lynch Park.
There are lots of kid-friendly activities, too, like the Lip Sync Extravaganza and Tiny Tots Day. And there's a classic-car show, outdoor movies and, on opening night, a dinner theater at the Masonic Lodge.
One of the most popular events is the Lobster Festival, where participants can purchase dishes of fresh lobster caught in local waters. The Lobster Festival, which helps fund the annual fireworks, will take place at Lynch Park on Aug. 4 from noon to 7 p.m.
This year, Homecoming will also honor a sports legend — Babe Ruth, who once played at Cooney Field in 1919, during a "barnstorming" game — with a bronze plaque and dedication. According to Doig, money for the plaque was raised through Babe Ruth baseball and private donations. After the event, to be held on July 31, an old timers' game will be played, as well as some modern contests.
IF YOU GO
What: Beverly Homecoming
Where: Lynch Park, 55 Ober St., Beverly, and at locations around city
When: July 30 through Aug. 8
Cost: Free; some events require admission fee
More information: www.beverlyhomecoming.com