By SAMANTHA RUSSELL
The Gaspee Days Committee will ignite historical recognition alongside community engagement Saturday at 12:00 p.m. at the Pawtuxet Park Gazebo, marking the start of this …
The Gaspee Days Committee will ignite historical recognition alongside community engagement Saturday at 12:00 p.m. at the Pawtuxet Park Gazebo, marking the start of this year’s Gaspee Days Celebration. Following a declaration, two bands will perform and people are invited to hang out in the park assuming Mother Nature is accommodating.
Gaspee Days Celebration honors the burning of the British revenue schooner, HMS Gaspee – America’s “first blow to freedom.” This year, it will commemorate the 251st anniversary of the feat.
“It was a pivotal point in our nation’s history,” says District 19 Representative Joseph McNamara, who will deliver the Declaration on Saturday. McNamara coins this annual event as an “extremely important” one through its inclusion of community members and historical education.
He continued that, because most modern history books were written in Boston, the focus tends to lie on the Boston Tea Party, which makes awareness towards the burning of the Gaspee much more vital.
Chairman of the Gaspee Days Committee Steven Miller described this weekend’s Proclamation as a kickoff of festivities for the next three weeks. Among himself and Representative McNamara, Senator Matt LaMountain and the mayors of Warwick and Cranston are invited to read additional proclamations.
The Gaspee Days Celebration concludes Sunday, June 11 with the burning of the Gaspee in Pawtuxet Cove. A highlight of the celebration, the Gaspee Days Parade, will be held Saturday, June 10 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.. The parade stretches across Narragansett Parkway, which is currently being fully repaved specifically for the event.
The repaving started Saturday, May 13, and is expected to finish by Thursday, May 18.
This year’s Gaspee Days Celebration comes amid the committee’s production of new Rhode Island license plates, with an image of the burning Gaspee. Pawtuxet resident Judy Hoffman said the plate starting with a completely different design five years ago.
Displaying a mere outline of the ship, and flaunting much less color, the previous design had too few pre-orders to go into production. Now, the plates feature the work of Rhode Island artist Karl Doerflinger’s and his painting of the Gaspee. The new design was approved just over a month ago.
“We [are] definitely going to make it (the goal of 300 pre-orders), no doubt at all,” Hoffman exclaimed about the plates’ completion by the end of this year’s Gaspee Days Celebration.
On May 9, a sign-up event was held for those interested in receiving a new plate; Hoffman described a “line out the door” and about 121 people, a good start towards their upcoming sign-up event on Saturday, May 20.
On Saturday, the committee will be providing order forms and collecting individuals’ information for the plates. They will also be present at the Gaspee Days Arts and Crafts Festival from Saturday, May 27 to Monday, May 29, at 10:00 a.m. daily.
Plates will be sold for $42.50; of that cost, $20 from each order goes to the Gaspee Days Committee.
Furthermore, Hoffman explained the enthusiasm people feel towards the new license plates, especially younger people.
“[The image of the burning ship] represents Gaspee Days [and its history],” she said. Almost like a symbol, she claims that the image “calls to people much more.”
Gaspee Days Celebration will host twelve events. These events range from a Block Party on May 27, a 5K Foot Race on June 10, as well as the Gaspee Days Parade, and the burning of the Gaspee on June 11.
A list of all events can be found at www.gaspee.com/events.
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