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Your Guide to Gaspee Days 2019: America’s ‘First Blow for Freedom’

[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] The Gloucester Light Infantry Military Militia fire their muskets at the start of the Gaspee Days Parade June 9, 2018.

[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] The Gloucester Light Infantry Military Militia fire their muskets at the start of the Gaspee Days Parade June 9, 2018.
[CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] The Gloucester Light Infantry Military Militia fire their muskets at the start of the Gaspee Days Parade June 9, 2018.
Warwick, RI — Rhode Island’s daring lead role in the Revolutionary War takes center stage during Gaspee Days in Pawtuxet this weekend honoring “The First Blow for Freedom,” the 1772 burning of the HMS Gaspee by a band of upstart Rhode Islanders, commemorated every year with a weekend of events, starting with the Gaspee Days 5K and Parade Saturday.

The rest of the nation celebrates American Independence on July 4, and that’s fitting, since the burning of the Gaspee preceded the Boston Tea Party in 1773 by more than a year.

In past years, the Gaspee Project at Waterfire has hosted a special Waterfire event in Downtown Providence — the spot from where the Colonials set out to burn the Gaspee — on Saturday night. The event isn’t returning this year, but the web page has an illustrated account of the fateful events that helped launch the American Revolution. You may also read the re-enactment on twitter with the hashtag We have also embedded a collection of the Gaspee Project Twitter re-enactment, all in one place, at the end of this article.

Here’s the weekend’s schedule of events:

Saturday, June 8:

  • 8 a.m.: Gaspee Days Eucemenical Service  The weekend’s celebrations begin with a solemn, non-denominational gathering at Trinity Church honoring the holiday. The 30-minute ceremony takes place in the heart of Pawtuxet Village at Trinity Episcopal Church, 139 Ocean Ave, Cranston, one of the area’s oldest edifices. Dozens of voices from The West Bay Chorale will accompany the service.
  • 9:30 a.m.: Gaspee Days 5KFollowing the same route as the annual parade it precedes along Narragansett Parkway, the Allen & Edna W. Brown 5K Memorial Foot Race is the first big crowd of the celebration that  essentially shuts down the village of Pawtuxet for three hours. Organizers recommend getting into Pawtuxet by 8 a.m.; parking after that is hit-or-miss. The 5K draws more than 1,600 runners each year to run along the Parkway’s famed red, white, and blue road stripe. Runner registration is available online. Check in begins at 7 a.m. until 9 a.m. at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center, Broad Street & Rhodes Place, Cranston, RI.
  • 10 a.m.: Gaspee Days Parade: Also following Narragansett Parkway, the parade draws a teeming, enthusiastic crowd watching marching bands and floats from lawn chairs, front lawns, porches and roofs. The parade features federal, state and local officials, the Pawtuxet Rangers, cannon fire, and musket fire. U.S. Senator Jack Reed, West Point graduate and Former Army Ranger, is the Parade Mace Bearer. John Reckner, founder of Passion for Pumpkins and creator of the Roger Williams Park Zoo annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is the Gaspee Days Parade Grand Marshal.
  • All day: Colonial encampmentSee 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.
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Sunday, June 10:

  • All day: Colonial encampmentSee 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.
  • Burning of the Gaspee. CREDIT: Visit Rhode Island via Pinterest
    Burning of the Gaspee. CREDIT: Visit Rhode Island via Pinterest

    4 p.m.: Burning of the GaspeeGet to Pawtuxet Park by 3:15 p.m. to get the best lookout spot. The next hour at 4 p.m. is marked by a loud “BOOM” — it’s the Colonials firing blanks from a real-deal cannon; and flames will soon consume a model Gaspee as it floats mere yards from where the original was torched.

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.

The Gaspee Project Twitter Reenactment

[pdf-embedder url=”https://warwickpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Gaspee-Project-Condensed-2.pdf” title=”Gaspee Project Condensed 2″]