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Ipswich Celebrates the 100th Anniversary of Crane Beach Picnics

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Cornelius Crunch ice cream was named by elementary students by popular vote and was created by White Farms Homemade Ice Cream.

The flavor (mint ice cream with Oreos, chocolate chips, and chocolate swirls) was so popular it will be now be sold at Castle Hill Picnic Concerts and at White Farms in Ipswich all summer long.

Crane Beach: Historic Photo of Crane Beach Picnic

One hundred years ago, Florence and Richard Teller Crane, Jr. invited all the school children of Ipswich to celebrate their son Cornelius' 6th birthday on the beach.

Everyone had such a good time that they continued to hold the party on Cornelius' birthday for many years, eventually setting up a fund to ensure that the school children could have a day of fun at the beach every June.

On a sunny Monday this past June, more than 1,500 Ipswich elementary and middle school students headed to Crane Beach to celebrate the 100th Crane Beach Picnic. The day was a great success – the weather was perfect, the children were excited, and the festivities were plentiful.

Highlights of the day included: a re-enactment of the birthday boat landing on the beach; Crane family impersonators welcoming guests; an 18-foot high replica of the historic Ipswich Lighthouse (relocated to Edgartown in 1938); Cornelius Crunch ice cream; and a ceremony to dedicate a commemorative plaque that included Crane granddaughter Tatiana Bezamat and her family. As a special treat, everyone who attended the anniversary picnic received a special t-shirt, generously funded by a local bank and featuring an image of 6-year-old Cornelius, as a way of wishing Cornelius a very big “Happy Birthday!”

While there certainly was a lot going on at the Crane Beach Picnic alone, the anniversary celebration extended beyond the day.

Susan Hill Dolan, Cultural Resources Manager at The Trustees, and Cheryl Forster, Principal at Ipswich Middle School, gave in-school presentations on the history of Crane Beach Picnic and the Crane family. They repeated this presentation for the community as well, where about 100 people turned out to hear the stories – and some even shared their own stories about past picnics and connections to the Crane family.

Ipswich elementary schools also held Cornelius Crane birthday parties in the classroom, during which they played old-fashioned games, made birthday cards for Cornelius (some are now on display at Crane Beach), and ate Cornelius Crunch ice cream.