Enjoy a uniquely Newport celebration this July 4th!
Home of the Sons of Liberty, Rhode Island was the first state to declare its independence from Great Britain in a nearly unanimous vote. Stuck in the thick of coastal battles, Rhode Islanders wrote their own letters of discharge to the king and his soldiers while waiting 2 months for the other colonies to catch up in the decision to sign the declaration of Independence.
On July 4th 1776, Stephan Hopkins would sign the official Declaration of Independence with a shaky hand saying “My hand trembles, but my heart does not.” With such strong and passionate ties to the start of this beloved country’s Independence, July 4th in Rhode Island is no ordinary day.
Beginning at 9 AM, Washington Square in the heart of Downtown Newport is transported back to 1776 as the Rhode Island Society, Sons of the Revolution (RISSR), Daughters of the American Revolution and the Artillery Company of Newport host a day of events full of significant historical splendor. A patriotic performance by the Newport Community Band will follow a salute to significant members of Rhode Island history and fallen soldiers in the Common Burial Ground. The band will rouse the crowd and put everyone in a celebratory spirit through Washington Square with the traditional finale of John Phillip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever”.
During the concert, flags and copies of our nation’s founding documents will be passed amongst the crowd by dressed RISSR members! The Newport Historical Society homes, churches, and other buildings will be open to tour at this time. Be sure to stay close to Washington Square as a decorated bicycle parade will race from the Liberty Tree at Thames to the Square where a pie eating contest will soon take place.
At approximately 11 AM, the annual reading of the declaration of Independence will take place on the steps of the Old Colony House to recreate the original reading by Major John Hardy in 1776. At noon, a 21 gun salute using original cannons cast by Paul Revere will sing for our nation’s birthday. Ringing of the bells will take place at the Old Colony House to commence this unbelievable event unseen anywhere else in America!
But that does not mark the end of festivities in Rhode Island or even the beginning. All weekend the island will celebrate with inimitable traditions!
The Independence Rhode Race kicks off the four days of fun on Saturday, July 1st. The half marathon will race through downtown streets of Bristol decorated for the oldest 4th of July celebration in America. Join the run by historic homes, the America’s Cup Museum, by a breath taking coastline, and through Colt State Park to the finish line along the water at Independence Park. A new addition to this year’s race is the Kid’s Obstacle Course Run. This fun, family friendly addition will begin at 7AM in Independence Park.
Competition continues throughout the day as the Red States face off against the Blue States at Newport’s annual Independence Cup! Newport Polo is celebrating Independence Day the old fashioned way with a duel. A classic six chukker match will take place 5 PM on Saturday at Glen Farm in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Only minutes away from downtown Newport, Glen Farm is the home of America’s first Polo Club established in 1876. Enjoy six rounds of American rivalry followed by a champagne toast, trophy presentation, and autograph cocktail hour where you can meet the players.
Sunday and Monday will be two days of feasting at Newport’s finest restaurants while they celebrate with spectacular specials and rooftop parties day and night. Enjoy fun in the sun shopping and sailing then gather back towards Jamestown for their Weekend Fireworks Display.
Join the Herreshoff Marine Museum for their July 2nd, 3rd and 4th Party on the Waterfront. Sip cocktails and sample chowder as you listen to live music at the waterfront. Tour the Museum from 10 AM to 7:30 PM and stay after dark for S’Mores and special seating on the dock for the Fireworks display. The Museum is also offering a Parade Package for Tuesday, July 4th including breakfast, lunch, and shaded seats for the Bristol Parade. The oldest continuous 4th of July celebration in the country turns 232 this year as the Bristol 4th of July Parade takes off again. The parade begins at the corner of Chestnut Street and Hope Street and ends on High Street. It’s a tradition unlike any other! Watch bands and drum corps from all over the United States march along with fantastic floats awarded at the end for being most patriotic, beautiful, and original followed by military honors. Bleacher seating is available to the public across from the review stand at Colt School on a first come, first served basis.
Another solution to parade parking and seating is found at the Annual 4th of July Picnic at Linden Place. The 1810 Linden Place Mansion is a beautiful venue for enjoying the Bristol Parade. Tour the mansion and gardens while you wait for the festivities to begin and then enjoy costumed characters and canon blasts from bleachers or shaded tables.
After 4 days of 4th of July fun, the celebration comes to a close with the Newport Fireworks Display. But what’s Independence Day without a Backyard BBQ? Rose Island promises a feast for the eyes and the stomach with their Lighthouse Party. Board the Ferry and brace yourself for the beautiful Rose Island and its Annual 4th of July Barbecue. Enjoy food catered by Becky’s Barbecue, delicious clam chowder by Blout, and refreshing watermelon while you listen to the Rose Wharf Band. BYOB and relax at evenings end from your prime seating to Newport’s Fireworks Celebration.
The water is the best place to view the fireworks, be it from the harbor, Rose Island, or a sail boat. On Sunday, July 2nd, the sails will be lowered to view the Jamestown Fireworks against the backdrop of the Newport Pell Bridge. You can also join Team Columbia or Team Heritage on Tuesday the 4th for a Sunset Sail followed by a view of the Newport Fireworks as they drop the sails overlooking Newport Harbor and Fort Adams. 12 Meter Charters will be open offering sails of Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay with views of the decorated mansions, the lighthouses, and Newport Pell Bridge throughout the day. Customized private charters and daily sails available. Contact 12 Meter Charters to book your sail while there’s still room!
No matter how you choose to celebrate your Newport Independence Day, have a safe and happy holiday. We hope to see you in Newport soon!
Photos by Duncan Todd.