Although it's been 400 years in the making, local officials, historians, and organizers have kicked into high gear preparing for the Hudson River Quadricentennial in 2009.
The event will honor explorer and the river's namesake, Henry Hudson, as well as explorer Samuel de Champlain who both made history in 1609 during their voyages to the New World.
Next year's event will also honor the 200-year anniversary of Robert Fulton's historic 1807 steamboat voyage from New York City to Albany. Celebrations and events will be held throughout the year sponsored by the state, county, and local municipalities along the Hudson River.
A list of state-sponsored quadricentennial events can be found on the Department of Environmental Conservation Web site, at www.dec.ny.gov.
The town will be a part of this historic quadricentennial celebration, with many events and plans currently in the works.
We are very excited to commemorate Henry Hudson's September 1609 arrival in what was to become the town of Bethlehem, Town Historian Susan Leath said.
The Bethlehem Quadricentennial Planning Committee was formed in spring of 2007 in order to help prepare for the commemoration. Albany County Legislator Tom Cotrofeld, a Democrat who represents the 34th District encompassing parts of Delmar, Elsmere and Slingerlands, chairs the committee. Cotrofeld replaced current town Supervisor Jack Cunningham in the county legislature when Cunningham took office in Bethlehem.
"We've been working with some civic groups and some church groups," Cotrofeld said. "We've got a lot of things coming up and hopefully we can get some town residents interested in the events."
Cotrofeld said there will be a Sept. 20 "kickoff fundraiser event" for the town's celebrations.
The rest of the planning committee consists of representatives from the Bethlehem Historical Society, Bethlehem Public Library, Bethlehem Central School District, Historic Cherry Hill, First Reformed Church of Bethlehem, Delmar Reformed Church, Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, The Mansion at Cedar Hill, and Leath.