Warwick, RI — You can work up your patriotism during Gaspee Days in Pawtuxet this weekend celebrating “The First Blow for Freedom,” the 1772 burning of the HMS Gaspee by a rebellious band of Rhode Islanders, commemorated every year with a number of events, including the Gaspee parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, wrapping with the burning of a miniature Gaspee on Sunday afternoon.
It’ll be about a month before the rest of the nation celebrates American Independence on July 4, but that’s fitting, since the burning of the Gaspee preceded the Boston Tea Party in 1773 by more than a year.
Here’s the schedule of events:
Saturday, June 11:
9:30 a.m.: Gaspee Days 5K. Following the same route as the 5K along Narragansett Parkway, the Allen & Edna W. Brown 5K Memorial Foot Race essentially shuts down the village of Pawtuxet for roughly three hours. Organizers recommend getting into Pawtuxet by 8 a.m.; parking after that is hit-or-miss.
- 10 a.m.: Gaspee Days Parade: Following the same route as the 5K along Narragansett Parkway, the parade essentially shuts down the village of Pawtuxet for roughly three hours. Organizers recommend getting into Pawtuxet by 8 a.m.; parking after that is hit-or-miss.
- 5:30 p.m.: Gaspee Project at Waterfire: Downtown Providence — the spot from whence the Colonials set out to burn the Gaspee — hosts a special Waterfire on Saturday night.
- All day: Colonial encampment: See what life was like in the 1770s at Pawtuxet Park, where several dozen [at least] historically-garbed folks will gladly show you their digs, threads, and chow.
- At your leisure: In 2013, WaterFire Providence re-created the events of the sinking of the HMS Gaspee by Rhode Island patriots in 1772 on their Twitter feed. You can read it start to finish on their website.
Sunday, June 12:
11 a.m.: Blessing of the Fleet: Held up the shore at the Rhode Island Yacht Club, 1 Ocean Avenue, Cranston, this event welcomes sea-goers and landlubbers alike. Float your way in, or just watch the parade of sails as the boats moor. Mooring and slip fees can be paid online. All fees are donated to the Gaspee Day Committee.
- 4 p.m.: Burning of the Gaspee: Get to Pawtuxet Park by 3:15 to get the best lookout spot. That 4 p.m. is marked by a loud “BOOM” — it’s the Colonials firing blanks from a real-deal cannon; and third, hope that the wind doesn’t kill the flames as they consume the model Gaspee as it floats mere yards from where the original was torched.
Find more information at the Gaspee Days Committee website.
How to get there:
Pawtuxet Village sits astride Broad Street on the Cranston/Warwick line.
For the most direct route from out of town, take I-95 or I-295 to Rte. 37 toward Warwick/T.F. Green State Airport. Go all the way to the end and curl around to Rte. 1, Post Road. Continue on Post Road, crossing over Rte. 117, until you reach the end.
If using a GPS, enter 2206 Broad St., Cranston, RI, 02905.
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