We will have an opening of the new Sakonnet River Bridge sometime soon. How elaborate would you expect it to be? Probably nothing like the ceremonies for the Mt. Hope Bridge in 1929.
The Portsmouth Historical Society has items from the opening festivities of the Mt. Hope Bridge in 1929. Those items include an invitation, guest badge and photographs of the construction and ribbon cutting. A front page newspaper article from the time helped us to understand how elaborate the ceremonies were.
Senator William H. Vanderbilt presided over the pageant. Beginning at 10 in the morning, a parade began in Bristol and headed toward the bridge. Part of this parade was a "tableau" depicting Roger Williams that was organized by the Rhode Island Historical Society. The Newport Historical Society organized a tableau and parade depicting John Clarke and they marched from the Aquidneck Island side.
At 11 a.m., "Roger Williams" met "John Clarke" and unfurled flags at the center of the bridge and exchanged greetings. There was an Indian ceremony in which Governor Case and Senator Vanderbilt became members of the Algonquin Council. Vice President Charles Curtis signaled from Washington, D.C. at noon to begin the dedication of the bridge.
The program lists events such as a christening of the bridge, ribbon cuttings and acceptance of bridge certification. The ceremony was even broadcast on WEAN at the old Outlet Building in Providence. Twenty five thousand cars paraded across the bridge after the ceremonies. In one of those cars was my father, riding in his uncle's car.
And what festivities are planned for the opening of the new bridge between Tiverton and Portsmouth?