Littleton, New Hampshire
NICEST PLACES IN AMERICA 2021 FINALIST
A place where you have every reason to be glad.
The people of Littleton, New Hampshire can always find something to be glad about: their rich history, their beautiful countryside, their hard-working, friendly neighbors. You might call Littleton the worldwide capital of finding things to be glad about. Littleton’s best-known native is the beloved children’s book character, “Pollyanna,” the famously relentless optimist who never let a chance for happiness go to waste.
Lately, they’re glad to be sharing their precious stocks of spare COVID vaccines with anyone and everyone who needs a shot.
“It’s the highlight of each day to call someone and say, ‘Hey, we have a dose. Would you be able to come and get it?’” says Koren Superchi, a nurse and administrator at Littleton Regional Hospital.
“The patients act like you have just handed them a winning lottery ticket,” she says. “Just the gratitude from the community has been wonderful.”
With its extra COVID efforts, Superchi’s hospital is carrying the proud tradition of a place known throughout New England as “the Glad Town.” Pollyanna was created in 1913 by author and Littleton resident Eleanor Hodgman Porter. The famous character now lives on as a smiling bronze statue at No. 92 Main Street, serving as the unofficial heart of the town and inspiring resident Veronica Francis to nominate Littleton for Nicest Places in America.
“The cheerful character has since become a cultural icon for optimism,” Francis wrote. “That optimism is valued through the people and places in Littleton. Littleton’s residents and business owners are glad to be nice and to have such a nice place to visit!”
Littleton, New Hampshire is a town of about 5,000 people, 100 miles south of the Canadian border, in the heart of what’s known locally as the “North Country.” Originally settled by farmers in the 1700s, its “Glad Town” nickname celebrates Pollyanna’s signature “glad game,” which is played by thinking of things to be glad about when times are bleakest. Surrounded by mountains and forests, Littleton has become a mecca for hikers, bikers, vacationers and nature lovers, with the annual Glad Parade as the centerpiece of a long calendar of events.
And when residents need a hand, they can count on neighbors like Superchi, who was thrilled to see her hospital’s spare COVID vaccines gobbled up at a recent event.
“When we had four lanes going and cars lined up, I actually breathed a sigh of relief,” Superchi says. “I knew we were going to be able to one, vaccinate everybody who needed to be vaccinated and two, not waste any of those doses.”
I’m Veronica Francis. I live in Littleton, New Hampshire which is a nice town to live in! Littleton is located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire which offers year-round outdoor fun from skiing to hiking to water sports. I grew up in the area and always liked Littleton. The downtown has cute shops and the unique shopkeepers were always enthusiastic about their town.
In 2002, there was a new sculpture installed on the Library Lawn in dedication to the author Eleanor Hodgman Porter, the creator of Pollyanna. Growing up, I had not paid much attention that Eleanor lived right in Littleton or the Pollyanna story. But the sculpture started to attract Pollyanna admirers from around the world. My office was downtown and often I witnessed visitors asking at the local information booth questions about the creator of Pollyanna and commenting on how cheerful our town is!
Seeing this attraction to the Pollyanna story and being a fan of Eleanor’s writings, I decided to open a “glad shop” in downtown Littleton and be “an ambassador of Gladness.” Not many knew what that was, and I didn’t really either. I just wanted to share in the optimism of the town and meet some Pollyanna fans. The shop opened in 2019 with a few souvenirs for sale and some signs about Pollyanna history. I was amazed and thrilled with the support from so many excited visitors!
My friends and neighbors encouraged me to grow the shop. Then, COVID came and shops were closed for a few months. We were scared it was the end of the Glad Shop! But even a pandemic couldn’t stop the Pollyanna fans from coming out. The year was busy with visitors from New England and now more than ever they were appreciative of the optimism of Glad Town. The shopkeepers in town were relieved that the tourist industry survived the tough year. We all worked together to keep our town and businesses safe, and more than ever, we embraced our historic optimistic spirit. We are so grateful for the brave visitors who came out to support our local shops and to find something to be glad about in Littleton!
The Glad Town is a happy place to live and visit any time of year and I’m proud to nominate Littleton as a Nice Place.