Boston Celebrates The 4th Of July In Style

Posted June 27, 2017 by Brian Keaney in Downtown Boston
4th of July at the Hatch Shell

They don’t call it the Cradle of Liberty for nothing.

In the 1700s, many of the defining events that lead to the Declaration of Independence took place here in Boston, giving us a prized place in American history. In that hot summer of 1776, John Adams wrote to his wife that Independence Day “ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” Bostonians have certainly taken that admonition to heart.

Kicking off the slew of activities lined up for the celebration is a concert by the 215th Army Band at the west end of Faneuil Hall Marketplace on Friday, June 30th, beginning at noon. Dignitaries will be on hand to give remarks, and a custom designed cake celebrating America’s 241st birthday will be cut.  

Tours, cruises, scavenger hunts, an 18th century  printing demonstration, a clam bake, and dozens of events are planned as part of the celebration. The full schedule of events can be found on Boston Harborfest’s website.

Those who love the Boston Pops but who are not a fan of crowds can catch a free concert at the Esplanade on July 3rd beginning at 8:30 pm. The playlist will be identical to the one performed on the Fourth, but there will be no fireworks. Crowds are usually a little lighter for the dress rehearsal.

On the Fourth of July itself the city has a whole host of activities. The events begin with a flag raising ceremony on City Hall Plaza at 9 am, followed by a parade up Tremont Street to the Granary Burying Ground. The cemetery holds the final mortal remains of three signers of the Declaration of Independence, and there wreathes will be laid on the graves of patriots.  

The parade then continues to the Old State House where a reading of the Declaration of Independence will take place at 10 am. This event recalls the first reading to the citizens of Boston on July 18th, 1776 of the truths we held to be self evident and why it was necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which connected them with another.

The remainder of the morning and the afternoon are then free for cookouts, family celebrations, and scoping out a prime location on the Esplanade. The gates open at 9 am and space is available on a first come, first served basis. At 8:30 pm, maestro Keith Lockhart will raise his baton in the Hatch Shell and the Pops will perform on live television with Andy Grammer, Melissa Etheridge, and Leslie Odom, Jr., the latter of Hamilton fame.  

For the final 23 minutes of the performance, fireworks will be launched from a barge in the middle of the Charles River. Crowd favorites always include Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, complete with cannons from the Massachusetts National Guard. Americans across the country will similarly be enjoying the overture that commemorates the Russian army’s successful defense against the the invading Napoleonic Grande Armée in 1812. In true Fourth of July fashion, they once again have Boston to thank as it was Arthur Fiedler who first included the tune in the 1974 celebration. It has since become a fixture here in Boston, and around the nation.