BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — As people across the country celebrated America’s independence on Thursday, thousands lined the streets of Bristol for the nation’s oldest continuous Fourth of July celebration.
The 234th annual parade kicked off at 10:30 a.m. at the intersection of Hope and Chestnut Streets.
It was a sunny, near picture-perfect day for a parade although the heat was a concern, with high temperatures ranging from the mid-80s to low 90s inland. Water stations and first responders were set up along the route to ensure the safety of participants and attendees alike.
“Fantastic. I love seeing all the military being represented here with all the uniform, and of course, the music,” Rachel Dipippo of Johnston said.
“It’s a great time to celebrate the United States and celebrate the patriotism,” Vincent Dipippo added.
The parade featured all the sights and sounds you would expect including marching bands, military members and vehicles, emergency responders, Clydesdales, and even a flyover.
Shelley Hood and her family drove 15 hours from North Carolina to take part in the festivities.
“I didn’t know anything about this Bristol parade so we said, ‘let’s go!’ She made the plans, and we came,” Hood said.
Many people including the Hood family showed up early Thursday morning to reserve a spot along the parade route. Others like Mitch Camera arrived even earlier.
“I came here after the fireworks, about 11 o’clock [Wednesday],” Camera said. “I laid down, took a nap, and sat in a chair.”
Camera said he’s been coming to the same spot for the parade his whole life and it’s a tradition for him and his family to spend the night on Hope Street.
Another man, Don Hughes, told Eyewitness News he arrived around 4 a.m. to make sure he had a good spot.
“I think it’s fun,” Hughes said. “You can’t get this anywhere else in the world, so might as well be a part of it.”