Not all, but most River Valley kids leave us to try their fortunes and find a job. But they do come home again, and their visits enliven the community. Take last Saturday night.

What a great night! Not one, but two homegrown hits on our hands right here in Rumford. Jennifer Sassi, with her stand-up comedy partner Mary Dimini, came home from The Big Apple. They performed to sold-out houses both Friday and Saturday nights at 49 Franklin St.

Jen, Mountain Valley High School Class of ’88, teased her mom from behind the mike, but Brenda didn’t seem to mind. Scott Grassette added some magic tricks to the fun.

Down the hill the same Saturday night, another of the River Valley’s own, Barney Martin, was back. The Coos Canyon Band, back by popular demand, made its own rockin’ magic in the Rumford Falls Auditorium. The Rumford Performing Arts Committee’s hard work is paying off: advance ticket sales were by far the biggest to date.

Another return visit is on the books for May. Burt deFrees, this week’s birthday boy (85), is bringing Sally Jones in her one-woman show, “Margaret Chase Smith” to Mountain Valley Middle School auditorium. Sally taught here some years back.

Who said if you hold on to something long enough, it’ll come back in style? Robert Frost? Calvin Klein? No matter. Fashions in clothes and in fun do come round again.

Example: A very young yo-yo master, Couper Gunn, 10, opened the Coos Canyon evening. We may have seen a future national champion. His grandparents Bill and Linda French wouldn’t be surprised.

Another example: Fifty or 60 or 70 years ago, all the kids around here ice skated. Last week’s Rumford Falls Times carried a feature on the Family Fun Day at the DARE park, across the road from Hosmer Field. Three hundred kids and grown-ups turned out for the Parks and Recreation-sponsored event, and that’s impressive.

What’s even more impressive is the story behind the skating rink, now some seven or eight years old. The whole story would take more space than Valley Voices has, but briefly, the River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition won a One ME grant to steer teens away from drugs and alcohol. The coalition, in partnership with then-SAD43, Parks and Recreation, and the Town of Rumford, made the skating rink happen.

But what about skates? One ME project dollars bought skates through Mexico’s Trading Post sold at wholesale prices. And a fiend from Norway, Ellen Snow, donated 20 pairs.

Kim Sequoia, who was the coalition’s project director, said, “This was truly a community effort.”

Linda Farr Macgregor is a freelance writer; contact her at [email protected]

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