7 Best Small Towns for the Fourth of July
The town crier Gerry MacNeil at the Bristol, Rhode Island Independence Day Parade. (Photo: Matt York/AP)
Every Fourth of July, I slog through holiday traffic to Cape Cod for one reason: the Independence Day parade in Chatham, Massachusetts. (Well, that and to see my parents, who live in the next town.)
Chatham’s parade is a small-town spectacle that started in 1908 —and it is still like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. There are homemade floats, vintage firetrucks, kids steering their hand-decorated bikes, even animals dressed up in their patriotic best. It was great when I was single, and it is even better now that I have a 20-month-old daughter and a 5-year-old niece to help get into the spirit.
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Fourth of July on Chatham’s Main Street. (Courtesy: Chatham Chamber of Commerce)
Early in the morning, we put the kids in their red, white, and blue, pack up our chairs and blankets, and try to beat everyone else to Main Street. Somehow everyone else gets there before us. No matter: even from the second row, it’s just as charming. One year we woke up early enough to make it to the pancake breakfast at the local elementary school. After the parade, there’s a strawberry shortcake festival (you can’t get more Norman Rockwell than strawberry shortcake). I always vow that next year we will decorate my dad’s convertible and join the parade.
With the women in my family at last year’s Fourth of July parade in Chatham, Massachusetts. (Photo: Tom Begley)