2014-06-26 / Opinion

Newport–Where to be July 4th!

EDITORIAL

Year after year, the BIG Fourth of July celebration in the state of Rhode Island occurs in Bristol, where the parade route through the town center gets a newly-painted red, white and blue stripe annually to mark the occasion.

We get that.

But this year, as the city of Newport celebrates the 375th anniversary of its founding, there are big doings here on Independence Day as well.

And that’s as it should be. With all due respect to the town of Bristol, Newport played a pivotal role as the American colonies gained their independence from British rule.

As 1776 approached, Newport and its strategically and economically vital seaport rivaled Boston and New York in importance on the world scene. And not long after the Declaration of Independence that year (signed auspiciously by our own William Ellery), British troops moved into Newport en masse and began a military occupation that would last for three long, difficult years.

A walk today along the pathway that follows the harbor in King’s Park brings you to the formidable statue of the Comte de Rochambeau, the French general. Rochambeau, and nearly 6,000 French soldiers, landed near this spot. In June the next year the army began its march to Yorktown, Virginia. There, the French helped to block a British retreat as Rochambeau and General George Washington earned final victory over the British and ended the Revolutionary War.

Newport’s role in the struggle for ­­­independence should never be diminished– and on Friday, July 4, you can help ensure that it’s not.

From 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. we can gather in and around Washington Square to celebrate “A Patriotic Newport 4th of July.”Take part in the celebration by decorating your historic home with patriotic flags and bunting! Dress up in your most patriotic outfit and come to Washington Square with an American flag. At 9 a.m. you can join the Artillery Company of Newport and march to William Ellery’s gravesite in the Common Burial Ground on Farewell Street.

The day will move along with a pie eating contest and a family bicycle parade to Washington Square, starting at William Ellery Park by the Liberty Tree at the intersection of Farewell and Thames streets. At 11 a.m. the Declaration of Independence will be read from the Old State House (yes, Rhode Island’s main seat of political activity was once right here in Newport!). At noon, cannons will fire and a band will play.

There is much, much more, as it should be. We hope you’ll be there!

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