The Bristol Fourth of July parade, the grand finale of the oldest, continuous Fourth of July celebration in America, once again delivered as promised. Tens of thousands of people lined Hope Street and High Street to watch and cheer as five divisions made up of countless marchers made their way along the two-and-a-half mile parade route.
At 10:30, as the parade was beginning to step off from the Chestnut Street staging area, two World War II-era training planes soared above the parade route.
With temperatures also soaring, staying cool was a challenge for those in the parade and for those watching.
Tim Donovan of Providence sat with his wife and four children on High Street. In the early hours of the morning, the trees on the eastern side of the road provided shade. As the day and parade wore on, the sun shifted and the shade disappeared.
“The kids are a little restless, but we did OK,” Mr. Donovan said.
To stay cool, they drank lemonade from a nearby vendor and stayed in the shade as much as possible.
For the Donovan family, this was their first Fourth of July experience in Bristol, and the town made an impression.
“We’ll come back again,” Mr. Donovan said.
Neither he, nor any other spectators appeared to be concerned with security. Police Chief Josue Canario also felt comfortable with the level of preparedness he and the department took. “I did not see any less people coming to the parade, and maybe more in some areas,” he said of this year’s attendance. “The crowd definitely isn’t any smaller.”
The department’s force of 40 men and women swelled to 150 law enforcement officers for the day, utilizing assistance from other municipalities, state and federal agencies.
And despite a handful of minor incidents, the day went very well from a safety standpoint, he said.
“We feel very confident we had enough” personnel on hand, Chief Canario said.
The day also provided a boost for local vendors, who sold food and drinks to the patient crowd.
Bristol House of Pizza had staff running pizzas up to their booth on State Street starting at 8:30 a.m. By 1:30 p.m. owner, Tula Gatos was sold out and customers kept wanting more. “It was a very good Fourth,” she said.
Likewise, lemonade went fast and steady for nearly all vendors.
Ray Cantone of New England Lemonade sold 45 gallons of lemonade from his truck by 1 p.m.
Seven other trucks were scattered along the parade route.
And on Bradford Street, Samantha Fletcher kept scooping cup after cup with a line stretching across Bradford Street.
“I’ve been scooping since eight (a.m.),” she said.
She had no idea how many gallons she must have gone through, but just kept filling cups, taking money, and filling another, with a smile.