Locals gear up for long-awaited return of Gaspee Days Parade

West Bay

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — It was the first act of war in the American Revolution.

Now, a Rhode Island tradition paying tribute to the state’s revolutionary history is returning to Warwick after taking a year off due to the pandemic.

If you’ve been to Pawtuxet Village over the past few days, you’ve probably noticed the streets are lined with chairs. The reason dates back more than 50 years, and residents say they could not be more excited to have the Gaspee Days Parade back this year.

“It’s something that has been a tradition for many many years and it’s amazing,” Ruthie Spellman said. “It’s amazing that we’re able to do it again.”

The parade kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday and spans a two-mile stretch of Narragansett Parkway.

Spellman, the manager of nearby Cork and Brew, said the parade has a massive impact on the local economy.

“It means a lot for the businesses and means a lot for the community,” she said. “We’re preparing now. You can barely move at the store right now with all the stuff we have to unload and prepare and get ready.”

While it may be a busy day for area businesses, it’s something they’ve greatly needed after the past year.

“I think it means a tremendous amount. It’s life coming back to Pawtuxet Village, and it’s been a long time coming, to see the windows closed and the doors shut over the past year has been a real challenge for everyone,” said Justin Braun, director of operation at Basta Italian Restaurant.

There are plenty of fan favorites when it comes to this long-standing tradition. Just ask Thomas Bakaloki of North Smithfield, who has been attending the parade for more than five decades.

“You’re going to see the cannons, you’re going to see the reenactment of the Gaspee, and then, most of all, you’re going to see the people,” Bakaloki said.

Our piece of little-known history will come alive once again in the streets of Warwick.

“I just love it,” Spellman added. “The music, the history – the history of the parade and the history of what it represents – is what it’s all about.”

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