JULY 4TH CELEBRATION HONORS HISTORY, COMMUNITY
If ever words had the power to ennoble their hearer by the universality of their beauty and truth, the Declaration of Independence of the American colonies from the British crown in 1776, stands out.
Every year, the morning of July 4, folks gather in Stonington Borough to honor the founding of our country and hear the Declaration read aloud in full, by fellow neighbors, dignitaries and students.
It is probably one of the sweetest scenes in New England life around.
This is what happens: A parade gathers inWadawanuck Square at 9:45 a.m. and proceeds downWater Street, with fife and drum and the American flag displayed with patriotic reverence. But here’s the kicker: The parade is open to all.
“Well, there are various floats, but we never really know who’s going to show up,” says ElizabethWood, the Stonington Historical Society’s director of development. “Everyone is invited. Last year a man who lives in the cove got his donkey all decked out and brought it; we had a ‘burrow in the borough,’ so to speak,” she laughs.
She’s not exaggerating. Children march beaming, holding flags and pinwheels aloft, and getting distracted here and there as they scour the road for the candy tossed from firetrucks. Ribbons fly from bicycle handlebars and dogs shake at the red and blue bandanas tied around their necks. Everyone waves. People wave harder when they see people they know.
Also participating this year are the National Sojourners, who will carry the replica of Stonington’s famous Battle Flag.
After the parade, everyone saunters over to the green. Kids climb the huge willow outside the Stonington Free Library and neighbors greet one another as they wait for the reading of the Declaration to begin. Copies of the document are passed around so that everyone can follow along. One after another, people take the microphone, and the words spill over the podium, the crowd, and the land that our forefathers secured with their loyalty and lives: