Portsmouth 375th parade steps off Saturday

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PORTSMOUTH — The big, Gala Weekend is finally here.

The Portsmouth 375th Committee has lots of tap for this weekend, which actually starts early — today, Aug. 29 — when a reception to greet the lord major of Portsmouth, England, Councillor Lynne Stagg, gets underway at the Glen Manor House from 5-7 p.m. Mayors from the Portsmouth towns of New Hampshire and Virginia will also be there. (Tickets, at $25 each, are limited.)

On Friday, Aug. 30, the Community MusicWorks’ String Quartet will perform at Greenvale Vineyards from 6-8 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and wine tastings are free of charge (wines by the glass will be available for purchase).

"It's open to the public, it's free and will feature our 375th label wine. And it’s delicious," said Doug Smith, chairman of the Portsmouth 375th Steering Committee.

Saturday is the big parade, which will feature about 55 units including three bands — the Portsmouth High School Marching Band among them — Miss Rhode Island, the "kissing sailor" George Mendonsa, many floats, various community organizations and local, state and federal officials. It steps off at 10 a.m.

“We expect the parade to last until 10 o’clock until about 12 o’clock," said Mr. Smith.

The march will follow the same route as the high school's homecoming parade: Participants will gather at PHS (if you're in the parade, arrive via Education Lane), then head down Patriots Way and turn south onto East Main Road. From there marchers will take a right-hand turn onto Freeborn Street and pass by The Portsmouth Free Public Library (the library will be closed Saturday), then make another right onto Turnpike Avenue. The parade will then head back to the high school via Memorial Drive and pass by a reviewing stand before ending the march.

Police have announced the following road closures for the parade:

• East Main Road (for southbound traffic) will be closed just prior to the start of the

parade at Patriots Drive.

• East Main Road (for northbound traffic) will be closed at Turnpike Avenue when

the parade begins.

• Turnpike Avenue will be closed between East Main Road and Memorial Drive.

• All traffic exiting onto Turnpike Avenue from Route 24 will be diverted toward

Bristol Ferry Road.

Motorists are encouraged to use Route 114 (West Main Road) to avoid traffic congestion.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, the Artillery Company of Newport will stage a reenactment, at Bristol Ferry Common, of American troops firing on the British during the Revolutionary War. “I’ll play this gently with our British guests," Mr. Smith joked.

Everyone's welcome to the family picnic starting at noon on Sunday at Glen Park. There will be musical entertainment by Four Bridges and Jacob Haller, square dancing, food vendors, model helicopter demos, a National Guard HALO jump, the Artillery Company of Newport, pony rides, games and much more.

“This will almost be a carnival event," Mr. Smith told the Town Council Monday night. "There will be games for all ages including a dunk tank. Bring a bathing suit, because I’m sure people would love to see some Town Council members dunked.”

Admission and parking to the picnic is free; it's extra for the Cabral's Gourmet Chicken dinner from 1-3 p.m.

375th Gala Weekend Schedule

Here are some particulars of the 375th weekend. For more information, visit www.portsmouthri375.com.

Thursday, Aug. 29

What: Welcome reception to greet the honorable lord mayor and lady mayoress of Portsmouth, U.K., as well as mayors from Portsmouth, N.H. and Portsmouth, Va. Sen. Jack Reed and Congressman David Cicilline are also expected to attend.

Where: Glen Manor House, 3 Frank Coelho Drive

When: 5-7 p.m.

Cost: $25 (limited seats available)

Friday Aug. 30

What: Chamber music reception featuring Community MusicWorks’ String Quartet

Where: Greenvale Vinyards, 582 Wapping Road

When: 6-8 p.m.

Cost: Free (no tickets required)

Saturday, Aug. 31

What: Grand 375th Parade

Where: East Main Road and Turnpike Avenue

When: 10 a.m.

Also Saturday: Artillery Company of Newport canon salute at Bristol Ferry Common (10 a.m.); and U.S. vs U.K. Polo Challenge at International Polo Grounds at Glen Farm (5 p.m.; tickets at www.nptpolo.com)

Sunday, Sept. 1

What: Portsmouth 375 Birthday Family Day Picnic

Where: Glen Park, Glen Road

When: Noon to 5 p.m.

Cost: Free admission; $12.50 for Cabral's Famous Chicken Dinner from 1-3 p.m. (advance tickets only)

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.