Imagine you are a stranger arriving in Andover on the Fourth of July. As you approach the town, you pass one of the large signs announcing our celebration. You might think … hmm, what would a small New England town have to offer?
You won’t be disappointed, because in this small town there is a commeraderi and community-mindedness like no other.
Since it’s fairly early in the day, all the activity is at the school. You will see a line of old friends chatting as they wait for their pancake breakfast, cooked to order. You might also notice that these old friends haven’t seen each other for awhile and are catching up; and you might notice the young ones waiting with anticipation.
If you stay a little while longer, you could wander over to the Village Green and hear the Kearsarge Band playing Stars And Stripes Forever and smell the aroma of food cooking. A thousand conversations and laughter are in the air!
Kids are playing games such as basketball toss and running through the inflatable obstacle course as their parents watch nearby. For-profit and non-profit vendors are displaying their wares, and there’s a smile on everyone’s face. It’s contagious! You might never have seen a community come together like this before.
By the time you’ve been able to take all of this in, you can hear the drumbeats of the parade approaching and the announcements from the grandstand and feel the excitement of the crowd. Kids are picking up candy being tossed. As a stranger in a small town, you’ve probably never felt so at home.
The parade is over now, so why not take another lap around the vendors on the Green and take a swing through the library book sale in the stone church, grabbing a hotdog and listening to the music from the bands playing. Now’s the time to stop and catch your breath, because people will soon be heading to Carr Field for more activities before the big finale.
Picnic blankets are spread on the field with children orbiting around them. Conversations, laughter, and joyful noises, the sounds of happy people, are all around as the evening dew touches their skin.
As the sun is fully set and darkness settles over the town, the first boom announces the fireworks. Sit back and enjoy the ride! Oohs, aahs, and applause are heard as the display continues.
As the last boom fades into the night, you’ll know you’ve experienced something special that will stay in your thoughts forever. You will have just experienced the 80th annual Fourth of July celebration in Andover!