New England Heritage: Fourth Of July Traditions

By. Jim Crooks On the 4th of July in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 colonies on...

New England Heritage: Fourth Of July Traditions

BI 4th of JUly flag

By. Jim Crooks

On the 4th of July in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. As always, this most American of holidays, Independence Day, will be marked by parades, fireworks, music festivals, and backyard barbecues across the country. And no region of the country celebrates it any better than New England…the place where it all began with the Boston Massacre, the burning of the Gaspee, and the famous Tea Party. Here are some of New England’s most cherished 4th of July traditions:

  • Bristol 4th of July Parade (Bristol, RI) – this year Bristol celebrates it’s 225th Fourth of July Celebration. Since 1785 the Town of Bristol, RI has hosted the oldest continuous Fourth of July Celebration in the country, and this year will be a very special one with an array of events including the Military, Civic, and Firemen's Parade on July 5th and concluding with the Freedom Festival in August. The Fourth of July Parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. and will step-off at the corner of Chestnut Street and Hope Street (Rt. 114) and ends on High Street, between State Street and Bradford Street. All inquires regarding the parade can be made to the 4th Celebration Line at 401.573.9453 or visit: for more info.
  • Boston Harborfest - If you want to celebrate Independence Day in proper patriotic style, head for Boston. The annual Boston Harborfest is a multi-day Fourth of July celebration featuring hundreds of events throughout the historic city. Many events are free. Harborfest attracts more than 2.5 million visitors to Boston each July, making it the nation's largest patriotic celebration. For 2010, the dates for the 29th annual Boston Harborfest are June 30-July 5. The American Bus Association has named Boston Harborfest one of North America's Top 100 Events for 2010. Boston Harborfest features a variety of historic tours, concerts, Revolutionary era reenactments and children's activities. Highlights of the annual event include Chowderfest (on Monday, July 5 in 2010), a unique opportunity to sample Boston's best chowder concoctions, and the 4th of July fireworks over the Charles River, accompanied by the Boston Pops. For more info visit:
  • Hartford, CT – Riverfest - If you want to celebrate Independence Day in the Hartford, Connecticut, area, head to the Connecticut River. The 30th annual Hartford Riverfest is a multi-venue Fourth of July celebration featuring events throughout the day on both sides of the river. Riverfest is family-friendly and free. For 2010, the date for the annual Hartford Riverfest is Saturday, July 10. The rain date for the fireworks only is Sunday, July 11. It features concerts, displays and children's activities, plus food and beverages available for purchase. Riverfest 2010 features the LEGO Summer Tour Interactive Display; Airborne Jugglers; music by a variety of bands and ensembles including Eight to the Bar, the Northeast Navy Showband and the Hartford Pops; plus, a spectacular fireworks display over the Connecticut River synchronized to contemporary patriotic songs (think Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA) beginning at 9 p.m. Visit the Riverfront Recapture Web site for a complete schedule of events along the Connecticut River on July 10. You can also obtain Riverfest information by calling 860-713-3131.
  • Hampton Beach, NH – Fireworks Display - Hampton Beach is a place of tremendous activity on the nation's birthday. With activities changing every year, the celebration always holds a surprise. But you can almost guarantee great music, lots of fun and a fantastic fireworks display out over the ocean. Fireworks have been a beloved summer tradition at Hampton Beach for more than 40 years, and the biggest fireworks show of the season is planned for Independence Day. Warren Pearce, owner of American Thunder Fireworks, is the pyrotechnician who has put on the beach shows the past five years. He choreographs each show, choosing from an arsenal of fireworks - flowers, horsetails, willows, comets, rockets, stars, crossettes, rings, diadems, whistling dragons and lollipops - and arranging them to contrast and complement one another before launching them at the night sky. For more info visit:
  • Oxford, ME – Nateva Music & Camping Festival - If you want to leave the parades and fireworks behind in favor of camping, great live music, and ice cold Gansetts, then head up to Nateva in Oxford, ME. The Nateva Music & Camping Festival is a 3-day, multi stage outdoor camping event to be held July 2nd, 3rd & 4th at the beautiful Oxford Fairgrounds 2 hours and 25 minutes from Boston and 45 minutes from Portland, Maine. As Northern New England’s premier music festival, we look forward to bringing you world class artists in the true Jam Band tradition as well as a sweet mix of Indie/Alternative Rock, Bluegrass, Electronica, and local New England musicians too. For more info visit:

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