BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) – Many residents and paradegoers were up before the sun to grab a prime spot at the Bristol Fourth of July Parade Tuesday.
The two-and-a-half mile parade officially kicked off at 10:30 a.m. at the intersection of Hope and Chestnut Streets. The area was closed to traffic at 7 a.m., and so were several other nearby streets.
Thousands of residents and paradegoers took part in the celebration.
“Everybody beating the drums, everybody having a good time, shooting the guns off, it’s awesome,” paradegoer Andrew Wagner said.
For many residents, the Bristol Fourth of July Parade is an annual tradition. Jason Carotenuti has been to the parade 42 times and now brings his eight-year-old twins to the celebration.
“My mom brought me here my first year and I haven’t stopped since,” Carotenuti said.
In Bristol, the Fourth of July is arguably more important than Christmas. Celebrations in Bristol began on Flag Day, June 14, and are wrapping up with the annual celebration on Independence Day.
“I don’t think we sleep the night before,” said Tom Andrade, a Bristol resident who lives along the parade route.
The tradition has the distinction of being the nation’s longest continuously-run Independence Day celebration. It has been an annual tradition in Bristol since 1785.
“It’s overwhelming how many people are here, you can’t believe it,” said Bristol resident Phaedra Dziedzic. “You got to be here to really understand the feeling.”