Bristol’s Fourth of July Committee planning for ‘full celebration’ this year

BRISTOL, R.I. (WLNE) – The Bristol Fourth of July Committee is going full steam ahead for this year’s celebration, after scaling back the events in 2020.

Michele Martins, General Chairman of the Bristol Fourth of July Committee, told ABC6 on Friday that they’re awaiting guidance from the state, but in the meantime, they’re planning for a full-fledged celebration.

“We’ve been planning since last August a full celebration. Obviously, we know more this year after being through the worst part of the pandemic last year, so we plan full steam ahead, all our plans in order, and if the state of Rhode Island allows us, we’re going to go through with a full celebration,” Martins said.

Bristol’s Fourth of July celebration is the oldest in the country. Last year, no one walked in the parade, everyone stayed in their vehicles for COVID-19 safety precautions.

“We got there that morning we didn’t know what to expect and people really followed the rules, they had their masks on, they were socially distanced, and as we rolled down the street people were just emotional, they were crying. It was the first little bit of normal that people had and I just feel like we persevered and were able to do it and we have the same momentum this year.”

The committee was hoping to put on its normal parade, but large events were not allowed in the state at that time. People still attended the parade in 2020, but everyone was required to wear masks, hand sanitizing stations were set up, and the parade organizers encouraged social distancing.

Martins said this year’s parade should feel like normal.

“I believe that the parade is gonna look more like it has in the past. Last year was a car parade, everyone was in vehicles and they were masked up, it probably was only 30 minutes in length. We did do the full 2 1/2 miles, but this coming year we’re looking at a full parade as far as having bands and floats and bringing back a full veterans division and military division.”

Rhode Island Department of Health spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said they’re keeping a close eye on new coronavirus variants that could impact life this summer.

“The variants are really the wildcard,” he said.

The department is now working on guidance for summer events like Bristol’s Fourth of July.

“We’re working on that guidance now and so, as soon as we have that finalized we’ll share that. We are very hopeful, we’re very optimistic, but we’re working through the final portions of that guidance now.”

Whether big or small, the tradition will continue in Bristol.

“We have had the celebration 236 years, so the first year was 1785,” Martins explained. “We don’t take lightly to not continuing, so we’re going to put every effort into doing the best we can.”

Martins added that the committee is also working to make the annual concert series happen, and will work to minimize the crowd if directed to by the state.

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Categories: Bristol 4th of July, Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island