Dover events light up Fourth of July

Danny Seeman of Dover waves Old Glory down State Street in Dover during last year’s Fourth of July Parade sponsored by the American Legion Fox Post 2. The parade gets underway Monday at 6 p.m. and is only part of the festivities set for Independence Day in Dover.  (Delaware State News file photos

Danny Seeman of Dover waves Old Glory down State Street in Dover during last year’s Fourth of July Parade sponsored by the American Legion Fox Post 2. The parade gets underway Monday at 6 p.m. and is only part of the festivities set for Independence Day in Dover. (Delaware State News file photos

DOVER –– On the 240th anniversary of our nation’s independence, a variety of organizations join Monday to create a day-long lineup of activities throughout downtown Dover with something for everyone to enjoy.

The day kicks off with a scavenger hunt hosted by First State Heritage Park. Families may pick up a map along with the first hints at the park’s Welcome Center.

“Independence Day is a great holiday for us to organize events,” said Sarah Zimmerman, director of First State Heritage Park. “Delaware has a strong connection to the American Revolution so we can take a lot of those connections and make them fun, interesting and educational.”

One of Delaware’s most prominent Revolutionary figures, Caesar Rodney, is of course involved in Monday’s programming. A short film entitled “Thunder and Rain,” depicting his famous ride for independence will play at the Old State House every hour between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Christ Episcopal Church, on South State and Water streets, will be the site of a patriotic celebration by the Sons of the American Revolution at 11 a.m. featuring a discussion, “Creating the American Navy on the Delaware.”

Jackson Briggs, of Hudson, New Hampshire, who was in town visiting his aunt, jumps for joy as he watches the parade last year.

Jackson Briggs, of Hudson, New Hampshire, who was in town visiting his aunt, jumps for joy as he watches the parade last year.

American Legion Fox Post 2 will present colors while William H.J. Manthrope, Jr., retired Navy captain, will lead the discussion.

Several patriotic lineage societies will participate in a floral presentation that will be placed at the Caesar Rodney Monument on the church grounds. Ringing of the church bells honoring each of the original states will follow.

At 1 p.m., one of the first classes of “Listen Up!,” a historical spoken word program for kids, will put on a show at the Old State House, performing their interpretation of the events leading up to Independence Day and what the events mean to them.

After the children’s performance, The Old State House bell will strike 13 times. The ringing will take place across all 13 original colonies as part of the National Bell Ringing Ceremony. Each ring represents a colony and the ceremony has been an annual tradition since 1963.

More than 10,000 bell towers are expected to ring along the East Coast during the 2 p.m. ceremony. It will repeat again at 4 p.m.

After both of the ringings, the Declaration of Independence will be read on The Green by a historical interpreter.

At 2:30 p.m., a walking tour will depart from the John Bell House on The Green focusing on tales of slavery and escapes to freedom –– specifically the tale of eight runaway slaves who made a daring escape from the Dover Jail.

At 5 p.m., the action switches to free activities for the kids, sponsored by the Fourth of July Celebration Committee, including a moonbounce, pony rides and petting zoo on Legislative Mall across from the Biggs Museum. The activity area will be open until 9 p.m.

At 6 p.m., the annual Fourth of July parade will start on Hazel Street and travel down State Street, ending just past The Green.

The parade, led by Grand Marshal Reuben Salters, has been organized by American Legion Post 2 for 18 years. Chairman of the parade planning committee, Dean Mills, said the parade will have all the traditional staples like classic cars, local fire companies, marching bands and beauty queens.

“Since it’s an election year, we have plenty of politicians and elected officials too –– more than usual,” he said.

But there are a few new members of the lineup like the Musikzug Starkenburg Heppenheim –– a visiting German marching band — and the Inner City Cultural League’s Sankofa Dancers and Drummers.

“Although it’s a patriotic holiday, it’s a community one too, so we always look for diversity because we want everyone to be represented and included,” Mr. Mills said.

Each of the 55 units in the parade will be announced when they reach The Green.

“Everything is organized and ready to go. So all we can do now is cross our fingers for good weather,” Mr. Mills said. “We haven’t been rained out once over the past 18 years and we hope this year isn’t the first.”

At 6:45 p.m., the Smooth Sounds Dance Band, an offshoot of the Milford Community Band, will perform in front of Legislative Hall.

The 7:45 p.m. opening ceremony will feature a C-17 flyover, pledge of allegiance and national anthem, led by Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen in front of Legislative Hall.

At 8 p.m., the 287th Army Band of the Delaware National Guard will play its annual concert of patriotic, pop and band classics in front of Legislative Hall, leading up to the fireworks show at dusk.

This year’s show is by Serpico Fireworks and will be set to music from the Broadway smash “Hamilton”.

For more information about downtown happenings on the Fourth of July, visit dover4thofjuly.com.

Many of the First Stage Heritage Park events will also be held during Saturday’s First Saturday in the First State events. For more information, visit www.destateparks.com/heritagepark.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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