Did you know that Rhode Island is home to the nation’s oldest Fourth of July parade? That’s right, the town of Bristol, RI hosts it.
The annual Fourth of July celebration began in 1785. It’s not known exactly when the parade started but it’s thought to have evolved from the procession of community members walking to patriotic exercises (according to the Bristol Fourth of July website). The parade, held on the 4th, is a 2.5 mile-long walk through Bristol.
If you go, get there early! The parade begins at 10:30am. You can’t camp in ‘your spot’ overnight, either – no setting up chairs or blankets before 5:00am. Your best bet is having a friend who lives on or near the parade route. In years past, we drove to a friend’s house (she lives about a quarter-mile from the route) and walked. Attending the parade is definitely something to do at least once if you’re local.
What will you do to celebrate America’s independence? It’s 240 years, you know. Whatever you do, enjoy and be safe!
Words by Katharine Lee Bates, Melody by Samuel Ward
O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed his grace on thee And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet Whose stern impassioned stress A thoroughfare of freedom beat Across the wilderness! America! America! God mend thine every flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law!
O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife. Who more than self their country loved And mercy more than life! America! America! May God thy gold refine Till all success be nobleness And every gain divine!
O beautiful for patriot dream That sees beyond the years Thine alabaster cities gleam Undimmed by human tears! America! America! God shed his grace on thee And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!
I love to watch fireworks. Comfortably at home and tuned in to “A Capitol Fourth.” At McCoy Stadium after the PawSox game. Once riding a Bonanza bus home from Boston, looking out the window and seeing them light up the sky. They symbolize Independence Day and Americana.
I hate fireworks! In 2010, Rhode Island passed a law making roadside fireworks sales legal. The brilliant lawmakers must have thought we’d be raking in the dough on this one. They were worried we were giving Connecticut our money, the way we do in their casinos. Right.
So here we are in this terrible economy and there are more fireworks vendors up and down Route 2. By the way, “Route 2” is just like anything you have near your home, a secondary state road that is littered with pop-up chain stores. In this case, I’m referring to the five-mile stretch of road from the East Greenwich town line to the Cranston town line. Used to be mostly farmland; in fact, one part of the road is called Quaker Lane and one part is called Bald Hill Road. Now it gives you two Paneras, three Dunkin Donuts shops, two malls, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, Best Buy, Staples, Target, five supermarkets, car dealerships, oh, and a bunch of “For Lease” signs.
And fireworks displays. Under white tents usually found in a backyard for a cook-out or next to a church for a strawberry social, now there are fireworks for sale. And who’s buying them in this depressed economy?
A guy pulls the last twenty-dollar bill from his wallet. The “Light of Liberty Fountain” is $7.99. The “Blue Streak Rocket” is $9.99. But the 12-piece “Party Poppers” – just $2.99. The same people who were complaining they couldn’t fill their gas tank last month are shelling out grocery money for fireworks. And at eleven o’clock tonight, we’ll still be unable to sleep.