By Jane Fusco
Flags, fireworks, barbecues and parades. Yes, these are the signs of the 4th of July, the official holiday of summer that marks the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation.
In June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies were engaged in a revolutionary struggle that compelled them to a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence. Two days later, the delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson.
The following year, on July 4th 1777, the glare of bonfires lit up Philadelphia’s night sky, and church bells and volleys from ships’ cannons broke the silence as the city celebrated the first anniversary of an independent America.
July 4th then became the country’s main patriotic symbol of freedom and cause for celebration.
Here are some fascinating facts about the 4th:
The Fourth of July was not declared a national holiday until 1941.
The stars on the original American flag were in a circle so all the Colonies would appear equal.
The first official Fourth of July party was held at the White House in 1801.
Presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe all died on the 4th of July. Adams and Jefferson died on the same day within hours of each other in 1826.
The song “Yankee Doodle” was originally sung by British officers making fun of backwoods Americans.
The Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 men from 13 colonies.
The Fourth of July is also Rwanda’s Independence Day, and the day the Philippines won their independence from America.
Rhode Island’s Bristol 4th of July parade is the oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the country. Bristol has hosted this parade since 1785.
This year, the 4th of July holiday falls on a Monday, making for a long weekend of summer celebration. Check out these events around town.
Smithfield: Navy Band Concert and Fireworks, Bryant University. Navy Band performs at 8 p.m., fireworks begin at 9 p.m.
Cumberland: Concert by Kings Row at 6:30 p.m., and Fireworks at 9 p.m., Tucker Field Complex. Rain date Sunday.
Glocester: Music and Fireworks, Glocester Memorial Park, 52 Adelaide Road , Chepachet. Music by Steve Malec and the Electric Flood, 7 p.m., Fireworks 9 p.m.
North Providence: Music and Fireworks, Governor John A. Notte Park, 1160 Douglas Ave (Route 7). Music by Reminisce, fireworks at 9 p.m. Refreshments by various food vendors. Rain date Sunday.
Scituate: Kids Activities and Fireworks, Hope and Jackson Fire Company at Hope Park, 117 Main St. Kids’ activities beginning at 5 p.m. Free chowder; clam cakes, burgers, hot dogs, drinks sold. Fireworks at 9 p.m.
July 1, 2, 3
Pawtucket: PawSox post-game fireworks after each night’s game, McCoy Stadium.
Cumberland: Fireworks, 9 p.m. at Tucker Field. (Rain date July 5).
Bristol: The 226th Fourth of July parade, 10:30 am. The historic tradition continues stepping-off at the corner of Chestnut Street and Hope Street (Rt. 114) and ending on High Street, between State Street and Bradford Street.
Cumberland: Arnold Mills July 4th Race (9 a.m.), Parade (11 a.m.) on Nate Whipple Highway, and Concert On The Green, 1 p.m., in front of Arnold Mills Methodist Church.
Glocester: The 85th Annual 4th of July Ancients and Horribles Parade, a unique spoof on local and national politics, 4 p.m., intersection of Route 198 at 200 Money Hill Road.