The Bridgeton Covered Bridge building team and members of the Bridgeton Covered Bridge Association stand together to cut the ribbon Sunday afternoon.
By DIANE DIERKS
Hundreds of onlookers crowded the streets of Bridgeton Sunday afternoon. The Bridgeton Covered Bridge reopened for the first time since being destroyed by an arson fire in April of 2005.
Contractor Dan Collum of Square and Level Construction, was moved to tears when he stood at the podium and thanked everyone who had contributed.
"This job has taught me there's a whole lot more good people out there than bad," he said.
Bridgeton Covered Bridge Association Treasurer Bart Barns said the project was originally estimated to cost more than $1 million, but due to the work of volunteers and companies who contributed their time and supplies at reduced amounts, the final cost will be less than $200,000.
Contributions were received from as far away as California, New York and Florida. Children in four counties raised money. A total of $240,000 was collected.
Standing in the crowd were families, whose grandparents and grandchildren had crossed the bridge. One speaker said her ancestors were Woodland Native Americans who had canoed down Big Raccoon Creek.
Jim Meese, Parke County Commissioner and volunteer, commented, "It was nine months until we broke ground, then nine more months later - here we are and there she stands."
According to Meese, a newly created association, Friends of Parke County Covered Bridges, will raise funds and seek grants to maintain and restore the other 30 covered bridges in Parke County.
The Friends of Parke County Covered Bridges Association, in conjunction with Wood-Mizer Products, Inc. of Indianapolis, have created a film that documents the rebuilding of the Bridgeton Bridge. The group hopes to have the DVD ready to sell at this year's 50th annual Parke County Covered Bridge Festival.
Upon conclusion of the ceremony, the ribbon was cut and all were invited to walk the bridge.
As people journeyed across, they cut snippets of the ceremonial ribbon to take home as souvenirs.
Guests were invited to a hog roast dinner to say thank you to everyone who contributed to the rebuilding of the Bridgeton Covered Bridge.