Freedom on parade
The sun was shining, the watermelon was fresh and the people were friendly. It was a little warm in the direct sunlight but what else should you expect on the Fourth of July in New England? All put together, the 26th annual Warwick Neck Parade epitomized what the Fourth is all about and, in a bigger way, what makes the City of Warwick a great place to live.
In terms of scenery, the backyard of Bill Nixon – parade organizer extraordinaire and gracious host of the after-parade reception – is difficult to beat. His expansive, well-kept lawn reaches all the way down to Greenwich Bay, where boats stream back and forth and the sun sets off the water’s surface like a million tiny diamonds reflecting. It’s Bill’s commitment and ability to bring people together that has built a tradition.
Warwick Neck in general has a particular Newport-esque charm to it. There is no shortage of wealth in the seaside residences here, however the friendliness is likewise hard to deny. All throughout the three-street parade, people walked along with kids and dogs, catching up with old friends or people they hadn’t seen since last year’s event. The sense of community is especially prevalent, as members from local businesses, politicians, recreation and youth groups all mingle and enjoy the nice weather together.
Part of what makes a community strong are its traditions, and it’s hard to imagine a more unique Warwick tradition than the Warwick Neck Parade, which began as nothing more than a fun idea and was first composed of nothing but marchers – anybody who wanted to be part of the parade, was in the parade. Today, the tradition has grown significantly, and entire new generations partake in it, which only adds to the meaning for those who started it.
To go from simple idea, to growing that idea and molding it into an annual event that people look forward and are proud to be a part of is a level of community engagement that some communities can only wish to attain. However, passion and enthusiasm are not qualities lacking in the hearts of Warwick residents. As people age and have kids, they pass these qualities and traditions onto their kids, ensuring the tradition lasts and keeping the community’s identity strong.
Through a combination of beautiful natural surroundings, an appreciation for the country’s birthday and the understanding that a strong, united community is what makes a simple area of land a neighborhood, and a home, the people of Warwick Neck embody what makes Rhode Island a special place.
It isn’t simply the majesty of fireworks going off in every direction you look, from as far away as Bristol, when dusk arrives, or the showering of light that they reflect off the water that makes this time of year special. It is also the sounds of neighbors applauding at a particularly good burst of colorful explosions and the laughs they share as they gather on vacation with loved ones around a bonfire that makes it truly unique.
Celebrations at this time of year embody the kind of American freedom we aspire for, personified in a way that is difficult to capture and is even more fleeting; a flash of brilliance amongst a darkened sky.