Senator Chafee absent;
Committee goes begging;
Bishop Gelineau reappears;
Bon fire, a thing of the past;
Fireworks launched from a barge.
So many events are now scheduled as part of the celebration that it is almost impossible to fit them all into the time allotted. For the past several years the celebration has started on Flag Day, June 14. Some townsfolk have observed that perhaps the opening shot should be backed-up to May 4 — Rhode Island Independence Day.
Regardless of the previous year’s admonishment by the Phoenix concerning the Flag Day Bash, there was an unpublicized post flag-raising party for “insiders.”
James W. Farley, Jr., defended the party as not being just an event for the committee, but also for people who donated to the annual souvenir program and to recognize police and fire personnel and those who have made special gift offerings for the cause of the celebration.
Money, Money, Money
One can justly question if expenditures of hard-earned funds were wisely spent on parties and receptions. A look at the minutes of the March 17, 1991, General Committee meeting confirms that one of the chief concerns of the Committee is money.
As part of the treasurer’s report, Frank Parenti said $15,000 had been received from ALMACS Super Market and $2,000 from radio station WPRI. Parade Chairman Marvin Perry said his Committee was planning a fundraiser along the parade to collect money.
Public Relations Chairman DeWolf Fulton announced a plan to sell flags and photographs of the Living Flag for $32 each. He also said he would try to get someone of national prominence to march in front of the Living Flag. Fulton reported that $2,000 had been pledged for this fundraiser and the Phoenix would give an $800 advertising space for its promotion.
Tag Day Chair John Riley, said he would order around 15 gross of clip-on flags at $40; with hopes of equaling the 1990 net of $1,900. The Ways and Means Committee's macaroni supper netted $1,154.56. A motion was made and passed to sell invitations to the Chief Marshal's reception for $25 rather than the $15 requested over the past few years.
Still more discussion on fund raising dominated the meeting: the lottery, a 1950s-type dance, the souvenir book, souvenir sales, a fashion show, the clambake, and personality roast.
Fourth of July Ball
At $30 a couple the principle social event of the summer¾the Fourth of July Ball¾was a sellout. The 34th annual edition was held Saturday, June 30, from 9 p.m., until 1 a.m., at the King Philip Inn. Those who bought their tickets before the Flag Day Exercises were eligible for a drawing to win a limousine service to and from the dance and a dinner for two at the King Philip Inn. The semi formal event that featured hors d’oeuvres and a continental style midnight breakfast was co-chaired by Mary Ellen Dwyer and Donna Marshall.
Chief Marshal Named
Anthony E. Agatiello, former teacher, Town Administrator, and town recreation director was named Chief Marshal by Committee Chairperson Elizabeth Anne Moreira.
Known affectionately as “Agg” and “Mr. A,” the selection of Agatiello as Chief Marshal was considered, by most Bristolians, a wise choice.
There is no doubt about the patriotism in the hearts of the throng of 180,000 who cheered, chanted and whistled to celebrate the United States 215th year of independence and its recent victory in the Gulf War. The town’s 206th Fourth of July Celebration was dedicated to the returning veterans of Operation Desert Storm. The recent custom of tying yellow ribbons around trees, mail boxes, and flag poles as a sign of support and affection for the troops took hold in Bristol¾they were in evidence everywhere.
The parade featured uniformed military, 28 bands, drum and bugle and high school groups, as well as 2 Mummers' bands from Philadelphia. There were 48 floats of all sizes, most of which displayed flags and yellow ribbons. The entire parade route was a sea of red, white, and blue, and yellow ribbons; the colors were in prominent display on most of the homes along Hope and High Streets.
For all of the commotion the day was relatively trouble free and no arrests were reported. Only a few beers were confiscated, there was one minor auto accident. For about 10 frightful minutes parents were separated from their two ½-year old child.
To beat the big crowds, some spectators began lining Hope Street at 6 a.m. Most passed the time by reading newspapers, and people watching and working on their tans. The “parade” before the parade is amusing to watch and always causes wonder to the thousands who watch while guarding their selected viewing posts with military vigilance. They wonder at the hundreds of people who are strolling north up Hope Street and a like number who are walking south on the same pavement; the question is, what is the attraction in the opposite direction?
Despite the tardiness of the scheduled flyover by three F-14 jets from Westover Air Force Base to announce the 10:30 start of the parade, the platoon of Bristol Police, the All Services Color Guard, the Chief Marshal and the Bristol High School Band sporting their new uniforms began their trek at the appointed time. The F-14s made their expected flyover one hour late.
Conspicuous by his absence was US Senator John H. Chafee who had been in Bristol parades every Fourth of July for almost 30 years. He even showed up in 1972 after he was “uninvited” by the Committee after he announced his candidacy for the United States Senate.
After an absence of several years Most Reverend Bishop Louis E. Gelineau, Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence, returned to the parade. He was seen riding in an open car with the Knights of Columbus contingent.