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The Bridge Is Back: Taftsville Celebrates Reopening of Historic Span Damaged by Irene

Charlie Wilson, president of the Taftsville Historical Society, speaks at the grand re-opening of the Taftsville covered bridge in Taftsville on September 7, 2013. Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage

Charlie Wilson, president of the Taftsville Historical Society, speaks at the grand re-opening of the Taftsville covered bridge in Taftsville on September 7, 2013. Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage Purchase photo reprints »

Taftsville — A little more than two years after it was damaged by Tropical Storm Irene, hundreds of people swarmed around the Route 4 entrance to the Taftsville Covered Bridge on Saturday morning to celebrate its reopening.

Charlie Wilson, president of the Woodstock Historical Society, presided over a ceremony that included live music, history lessons, a parade of horses and more than two dozen classic cars, and the alluring aroma of free food wafting from the other side of the bridge, which attendees were invited to cross once the ceremonial ribbon was cut.

Built in 1836, the bridge has served several communities — including the village of Taftsville, the town of Woodstock and the surrounding towns of Pomfret, Hartland and Hartford — for 175 years, Wilson told the crowd at the beginning of the event.

“It took a two-year leave of absence after (Tropical Storm) Irene,” he said, “and it’s back now today and I think what we want to celebrate is the next 175 years. … This event, it’s not only about the bridge, it’s about our communities, and it lets us celebrate our community.”

The $2.5 million renovation was started in October 2012. Officials had hoped to have work completed by June, but the discovery of more deteriorated wood than expected delayed those estimates.

Woodstock Town Manager Phil Swanson said he was pleased to see an estimated 600 people in attendance on the sunny day.

“It’s always nice when an event exceeds your expectations,” he said.