Parades, events highlight July 4 holiday

ADDISON COUNTY — Massive parades. Awesome fireworks displays. Mouthwatering food. And, of course, the Great Bristol Outhouse Race.
That’s what residents of Addison County and Brandon are preparing for the Fourth of July, which, this year, commemorates 239 years of American independence.
Bristol, Brandon, Vergennes and Salisbury are going to be showing their true colors — red, white and blue, that is — on and around the Fourth of July weekend by throwing a smorgasbord of fun and exciting activities, including the towns’ fireworks displays.
For those who are looking for an educational experience for the whole family this Independence Day, look just across Lake Champlain to Fort Ticonderoga — once captured by Vermont’s own Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys — and Mount Independence in Orwell.
Bristol’s Fourth of July activities start on the evening of July 3, where electro and hip hop DJ Jam Man will kick off the entertainment. At 6 p.m. that evening, the ballpark opens with great food, exciting games, live music and, if you’re feeling lucky, raffle tickets. Be sure to catch the fireworks display after dusk.
Independence Day celebrations kick off early the next morning in Bristol with the 7:30 a.m. 5K road race, which begins at Mount Abraham Union High School. For those wishing to participate, a form is available online to sign up.
At 9 a.m., you’ll just have to see the Great Bristol Outhouse race. The starting line is in front of Saint Ambrose Catholic Church on West Street. The participants have constructed a boxy “outhouse” that will be pulled, pushed and piloted in races down the street in four suspenseful heats. For those who aren’t participating, or for the faint of heart, observers can place bets on the outhouse they believe will win, with a top prize of $75.
At 10:30 a.m., one of the longest running parades in the state of Vermont, with color guards, firetrucks, bands and lots of floats will begin. This year’s theme is “Mardi Gras,” so don’t miss the exciting Cajun celebration led by Grand Marshals Ken and Vivian Weston beginning on Spring Street, crossing over on Mountain Street to Main Street, and down Main and West streets to end at the Rec. Field.
At noon, head to the town green to catch the upbeat music of Mango Jam, where there will be great music and great fun. And for the kids: pony rides.
Brandon will commence its Independence Day celebrations on Friday evening with a street dance with a rock, blues and country performance from the band Distant Thunder at 6 p.m. in Central Park. Then at 7 p.m. a DJ will take over. Great food will complement the festivities.
The next day, before the parade at 1 p.m., Central Park will have grilled food and karaoke in the gazebo starting at 10 a.m. Behind the Brandon Inn, residents can find a bounce house, a petting zoo, tons of games, a bike that creates smoothies when ridden and stunt comedian Steve Gratto juggling, walking around on stilts and riding a unicycle — hopefully not all at once. At noon, also behind the Brandon Inn, begins the long awaited Pie Eating Contest.
At Fellowship Hall from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., and then from 2 until 3 p.m. will begin Brandon’s biggest fundraiser: the silent auction. Bid big!
Then, at 1 p.m. Brandon’s signature event, the parade will begin at the intersection of Park, High, and Marble streets, which will feature floats, bands, fire trucks and antique tractors and cars.
After the parade, don’t forget to head to Central Park to catch the rock, reggae, ska, funk and blues music of The Keating Five. At Green Park the annual Ball Race will commence. For those who don’t know, the Ball Race is a fundraiser in which contestants purchase balls on July 3 and, the next day, throw them into the Neshobe River. The person whose ball is the first to plummet over the falls and be caught by the waiting firemen will win and receive a prize.
Last, finish off Independence Day in Park Village at 5 p.m. for food and float winner announcements. A DJ will provide music and fireworks will commence at dusk.
On July 3, at 8:45 p.m., the Vergennes American Legion and Addison County Eagles will sponsor a fireworks show to kick off Independence Day at the Vergennes athletic fields. Parking will be available at Vergennes Union High School and Vergennes Union Elementary School. Don’t miss the Vergennes City Band playing some old-time favorites to introduce the show.
Independence Day celebrations will also be a two-day affair in Salisbury. On July 3 at 7:30 p.m. the Salisbury Congregational Church will host a musical performance by the Point CounterPoint Faculty. The next day, at 1:30 p.m. and lasting until 4:30 p.m. the Salisbury Congregational Church will also host its 41st annual ice cream social. Come for ice cream sundaes, cones, cakes and pies.
For the history buffs out there, join the historic interpreters at Fort Ticonderoga for a three-day celebration of our nation’s military history from July 3 to July 5, where you’ll learn about the weapons and daily duties of the average Continental soldier during the American Revolution. Here you’ll learn about the great odds the North American Army had to overcome in restoring its sick, tired and hungry soldiers into a formidable fighting force against the British.
In Orwell, Mount Independence is celebrating our history with readings from German, American and British period sources that document the American withdrawal from Mount Independence. Largely considered an American loss, the excellence of the Continental Army’s rearguard is responsible for ensuring that British Brigadier Gen. Simon Frasier could not pursue America’s retreating army. Several re-enactors will be present to talk with visitors.

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