Photo by @tea.hannaford

Follow the Two Lane road south out of Providence, Rhode Island for a half-hour until the traffic dividing line changes from standard yellow to red, white, and blue. You’re now en route to what’s considered the “Most Patriotic Town in America” where a tradition that’s almost as old as the nation itself is about to march down Chestnut Street. Welcome to Bristol, home of the oldest Fourth of July parade in the country.

Each July, locals and visitors rub shoulders in this historic waterfront town as they set up their camp chairs along 2.5 miles of Bristol’s historic Main Streets for The Civic, Military, and Firemen’s Parade. The event was established in 1785 by the Rev. Henry Wight, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, as an uplifting way to demonstrate patriotism, like reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and honoring soldiers, during hardships brought on by the war.

LEFT: Photo by @roadtrip_newengland RIGHT: Photo by @primeresmortgageinc

Today, this act of patriotism has maintained its pace for more than 200 years as a beloved community event where everyone can show up and celebrate our nation’s independence with troops, mounted officers, marching bands, decorated fire trucks, and homemade floats marching down that iconic strip of red, white, and blue.

LEFT: Photo by @jofreneto RIGHT: Photo by @winnie_the_cocka_pooh

The Bristol Fourth of July Committee has done an excellent job organizing other events during the star-spangled celebration.  There are free outdoor concerts at Independence Park, Orange Crate Derby races, a Drum & Bugle Corps show, and more. Bristol’s commitment to preserving tradition and honoring community history has also earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Photo by @thepersyns_kate

When the parade is over, duck into the local shops, museums, and restaurants that proudly showcase the history of this charming New England town. The countdown to the Fourth of July is on!

If you’d like to learn more about Bristol’s 4th of July celebration, click HERE!

Feature image by @theuhw

Photo by @ethanmtucker



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5 thoughts on “Bristol, Rhode Island: Home of The Oldest Fourth of July Parade In America”

  1. Murray Dinneen

    Great article. Sounds like a great place to be on the 4th of July for sure. Not long to go now.
    Have a great celebration.
    Murray from New Zealand

  2. Tom Staton

    I was born in “The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations”( which is the the proper name, the smallest state with the longest name! ) back in the year 1946. As far back as I can remember my parents would take me to Bristol for the 4th of July. Wow what a memory you just brought back, Thanks Mike. I went into the USN in 1963 and became a hospitalcorpmen (a medic to those whom are not up on navel terms.) Never again to live in R.I., visit now and then but the state itself has changed almost to the point of overcrowded, known as a bed room community for Boston. Sad but now I live in a log cabin in the woods just out side of a town called Borodino, N.Y. it’s a great place we even have a flashing light at the four corners. LOL At heart I’m still a tight New England yankee, don’t waste a thing. Always watch your show when the signal comes in. Should you guys ever get up this way (around the the NY fingers lakes area stop in and have lunch and a cold beer. There are several world class Model R.R.’s in this area, I also know some friends that have some really good stuff, your kind of stuff, they might not want to sell much but you never know. Thanks again for the memories Tom Staton

  3. Lawrence M. Piemontese

    I was born in Newport, R.I. at the Navy base hospital in September of 1946 and grew up in Bristol. I lived in Bristol for 17 years until I left during the Vietnam War for the United States Air Force. I left with my long friends, Jimmy Cruz and Joe Cabral as buddies in the service. I was fortunate to have marched in the 4th of July Parade when I was a drummer in the Bristol Colt High School Band. One year we rode in the back of a truck and played and I enjoyed the relief. I left my heart in Bristol and many friends and relatives. I go back every 4-7 years to see my friends and relatives and sad to say that many are no longer with us. Leaving Bristol when I was 17 I took all my memories of my youth with me and even today I have fond recollections of my life during those years. I relive many memories through my good friend Manny Corriera’s wonderful pictures. How can anyone who grew up in Bristol not have their heart beat stronger when thoughts of the parade enter their minds? I miss the events surrounding the 4th and hope to return in 2019 with my wife Claudia of 50 years. We will regain our youth as I stand and salute every American Flag that passes us. Love and prayers to you all and have a wonderful 4th. Larry M. Piemontese a proud American Veteran.

  4. Mark Shiver

    Would love to attend! Sounds like a lot more places should follow their lead. Nice to see patriotism alive and well!

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