In July of 1776 when news of the signing of the Declaration of Independence spread throughout the 13 colonies, spontaneous or haphazardly orchestrated parades broke out in many cities. There were joyous people everywhere marching in throngs and out of step or marching to the beat of colonial militia drums. It didn’t matter, it was a celebration of American liberty. Today more than two centuries later communities across America continue the tradition and enjoy parades big and small. Parades include marching bands, scout troops, military units, floats and other novelties. But all are meant to accomplish one goal – celebrating American Independence on the Fourth of July. New England as one of the centers of our fight for freedom has more than its share of Fourth of July marches.
The Grand Daddy of Them All. No it’s not the Rose Bowl, but when it comes to parades celebrating the Fourth of July, there is no doubt, especially among New Englanders, that the annual Fourth of July Parade in Bristol, RI. Throughout the year, residents of Bristol enjoy their colonial heritage and welcome year round guests to enjoy their water front location and their colonial architecture. But there is no more celebrated time on this town’s calendar than the Fourth of July. The community of Bristol really turns things up a notch with all kinds of competitive and celebratory events during the days prior to the 4th. But all is only anticipatory of the giant Fourth of July Parade.
The people of Bristol have every right to be excited. Their home town parade is the longest continuously celebrated Fourth of July parade in the nation. The first parade was held on the Fourth of July in 1785 before the George Washington even took office and only two years after the Peace of Paris in 1783 formally brought the Revolutionary War to an end. Ever since that time the residents have made it a point to celebrate the independence of the nation with a parade.
Naturally over the years the parade on the 4th has changed and grown This year’s rendition is the work of a committee of some one hundred people, 23 of whom are lifetime 4th of July Celebration Committee members. The town and especially the parade route will be bedecked in red, white and blue in honor of the USA. But truthfully it may be hard to spot the decoration because of the mammoth crowd that customarily appears. The parade passes along Hope and High St. in the center of Bristol and is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. but organizers warn that many access roads will be closed down as early as 7 a.m. Visitors to Bristol are also instructed to arrive as early as two hours before the parade to find a viewing spot.
The composition of the parade is not totally different than what one might find in a small local parade. There will be bands, drum and bugle corps, floats and civic units. What makes the difference in Bristol is both its long tradition and the length and quality of the parade. If you don’t have a parade in your own home town, this one is worth traveling to see. .For more information connect at www.july4bristolri.com.
Wakefield, MA A Massachusetts community with its own sense of pride, Wakefield welcomes New Englanders each year to its version of a Fourth of July parade. Drawing nearly 100,000 spectators, the Wakefield parade gives viewers a later start on the day. The Wakefield Fourth of July Parade does not step of until 5 p.m. This late start has a lot of benefits to it but perhaps the main one is that by 5 p.m., even a New England scorcher will have started to cool down.
This year’s parade in Wakefield is built around the theme: Pride, Service, Country and there will be plenty of floats lined up to demonstrate those ideas. The Wakefield parade on the Fourth of July prides itself on the fine collection of musical units it draws to the line of march each year. 2007 will be no exception. Units from around the nation will be present including “The Cadets” a 9 time World Championship group, “The Crossmen” from SanAntonio, Texas and the “Blue Knights” from Denver Colorado.
Two special guests that will draw the crowds attention are old time cowboy Rex Trailer, local hero of the television series Boomtown and for the kids Spiderman . The line of march will also welcome antique vehicles, military units and community groups. If you want more information about the exciting happenings at Wakefield, MA visit www.julyparade.com
Franklin,MA What could be more appropriate than to attend a Fourth of July parade in a New England town named for one of those present at the time when the signing took place, one Benjamin Franklin. The town of Franklin, MA took its name and some of its patriotic spirit from Ben Franklin and puts its national pride on display in its annual parade.
The parade in Franklin, MA is not the largest in the area, or the most watched, but it does have one very positive feature. The Franklin, MA Fourth of July parade is offered on the Sunday before the actual Fourth of July, this year that date is July 1. The practice in Franklin is to hold almost a full week of celebration associated with the Fourth. This year festivities actually begin on Friday, June 29 with field day and midway activities and live music on the town common.
The Parade is a central part of the fun and begins at 1:00p.m. passing through the center of town and along Main St. towards the common.
For those who really enjoy parades, Franklin’s July 1 version of a Fourth of July parade gives you a chance to stop in Franklin, MA on Sunday and then make a second selection for viewing when the Fourth arrives in the middle of the week.
Fourth of July Parades in New England are a wonderful free family activity, with something for everyone. The only thing parade watchers need to do is plan their parking and their parade survival gear, such as sunscreen, water bottles and something to sit on should you chose. Then just relax and watch the fun stroll by.