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Your Guide to the Country's Oldest Fourth of July Celebration

Find out where to watch the Bristol Fourth of July Parade, the oldest Fourth of July celebration in the country, this Wednesday.


The oldest Fourth of July celebration in the country is just around the corner, but are you ready to experience this once-in-a-lifetime, unique experience? 

The 227th, yes 227th, Bristol Fourth of July Celebration attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators each year from across the country and throughout the world.

Bristol's Patriotic Exercises began as a simple speech on July 4, 1785 under the guidance of Dr. Henry Wight in the Town's Congregational Church, but has grown to the oldest, continuing celebration in the nation. Check out for more detais on the history of the celebration.

This year's parade will be no less an exhibition as years past as organizers welcome bands and drum corps from around the country. Chief Marshal Antonio (Tony) Teixeira will lead the marchers and floats throughout the route. 

Parade-goers will also have the honor this year of , who is expected to participate in this year's ceremonies. 

When and where to watch 

The Fourth of July Parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 4. Marchers will step-off at the corner of Chestnut Street and Hope Street (Rt. 114) and conclude on High Street, between State Street and Bradford Street.

Hope Street (Rt. 114) will be closed off beginning at 8 a.m., including Poppasquash Road.

Can't make it to the parade in person? You can still watch the parade on your television. The parade will broadcast live on ABC 6. 

Where to park

Various surrounding streets will be closed off beginning at 8 a.m., including Poppasquash Road. Chestnut Street, Naomi Street and Sherry Avenue will be closed to traffic at 7 a.m.

A parking ban along the parade route goes into effect the night before the parade.

Parking is basically anywhere you can find it. Large lots are open to the public at the corner of Hope and Gooding. Avoid Mt. Hope High School, as the parade forms there are participants will be parking there.

If you are parking on residential streets, please be sure to avoid blocking driveways. Police will ticket.

What to bring

Visitors should bring cold drinks, hats and sunscreen. Sit in shady areas, which can be the best protection against sun and heat. 

Bring games and books to occupy your children before the parade begins.

You should also bring blankets or chairs to sit on. Blankets and chairs may not be set up along the parade route before 5 a.m. Any materials set up before 5 a.m. will be confiscated.

Overnight camping is prohibited. Areas along the parade route may not be roped off, taped off or blocked any way with any object.

A viewing section for people with disabilities will be set up at the corner of Hope and Court Streets, across from the Harriet Bradford Motor Inn. Handicap parking will be available across from the Town Hall on Court Street.

Bleacher seats across from the Reviewing Stand will be available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

First Aid will be available from emergency medical crews stationed along the parade route.

What not to bring

Organizers ask participants to leave the pets at home. 

You should also keep the beer-filled cooler at home. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.

Fireworks, Silly String, "Poppers," streamers, waterguns and projectiles of any kind are prohibited.

Bicycles, skateboards and in-line skates are prohibited along parade route during parade. Anyone using any such transportation must walk along the parade route with bicycles, skateboards and in-line skates at their side.

Soliciting along the parade route is also illegal unless a license has been obtained from the Fourth of July Committee.

Additional Fourth of July events

Many other patriotic events are happening this July 3 and 4 as part of the 227th celebration. 

On July 3, a patriotic concert will take place at 6:30 p.m. at Indepence Park. At 9:30 p.m., fireworks will light up the skies above Bristol Harbor. 

The 2012 visiting U.S. Naval ship, the USS Carter Hall (LSD-50), will also arrive into the harbor on July 2. Families will be allowed to visit the ship from July 3 to 5. 

For more information about these, Fourth of July contests and other events happening this holiday week, visit the Bristol Fourth of July Parade Web site here

And don't forget to wear your red, white and blue on parade day! 

Dave Davies June 30, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Portsmouth pack 50 cub scouts will have a float in this wonderful parade this year.Come show support on July 3rd at 5:00pm at Common Fence point VFW hall for our float decorating event.We will be representing Portsmouth!~Cubmaster Dave
Sandy McGee July 05, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Thank-you Dave for posting this! Did anyone catch a photo of this float?

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