2015-07-09 / Around Town

A Look Back at the Fourth

By Jack Kelly

Photos by Jack Kelly Photos by Jack Kelly Newport celebrated the Fourth of July in fine fashion. While considered an international city in the summertime, Newport’s small town charm and vibrant history were on full display during a series of celebratory events that marked the holiday.

The day began with a somber and dignified graveside homage to William Ellery, Newport resident and lawyer, who represented Rhode Island in the Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence for the colony.

The Sons of the Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution hosted the simple but moving program, as they have for over 100 years. Bruce MacGunnigle, president of the Sons of the Revolution, gave a fitting tribute to Ellery and laid a wreath on his grave. MacGunnigle was attired in a replica uniform that was designed by General George Washington in 1779 for New England regiments in the Continental Army. At the end of the program, Newport Artillery members fired a nine volley salute from their muskets.

As the unit marched back to Clark Street, they passed the bicycle parade that began at William Ellery Park. The two distinctly different groups accompanied each other to further ceremonies in Washington Square. Visitors to the square were welcomed with patriotic music performed by the Newport Community Band. While the band played, a blueberry pieeating contest, sponsored by Newport This Week, was held next to the park. Contestants, young and old alike, devoured the tasty pies for the title of winner.

At the conclusion of the concert, Colonel Roy Lauth, of the Newport Artillery Company and a descendant of William Ellery, gave a spirited and heartfelt reading of the Declaration of Independence from the steps of the Colony House. Lauth stood in the same spot where the document was read to the public 239 years ago!

At noon the Newport Artillery Company performed a 21 gun salute with the storied unit's four 18th-century Paul Revere cannons.

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