1987 Two Hundred Eleventh Anniversary of American Independence
A New Celebration Year
The cloud of uncertainty hanging over the first year of the Farley administration of the Fourth of July Celebration lingered into the 1987 year; not for anything that James W. Farley, Jr., did, but for what he failed to do.
A concerned citizen, Gregory Raposa, was trying to obtain certain records from the Celebration Committee without success. In addition, as an appendix to previously recorded costs for production of the celebration, this author joined Mr. Raposa (although separately, neither knowing of the other’s interest) in seeking information concerning Committee money matters.
Certain letters from Raposa and myself, and Bristol Town Clerk Angela Mederos; minutes of the Town Council as well as Providence Journal and Bristol Phoenix reports for the period June 13, 1986 - January 21, 1987 are available on microfilm at the Rogers Library.
Pressured by the Bristol Town Council, Farley reluctantly released specific financial information to the Council who in turn made the same information available to the original requesters and to the public.
The Committee has to rely on a number of resources to fund the annual celebration, those sources for the 1986 observance were as follows: fund raising 19.3 percent, carnival 13.7 percent, finance 10.1 percent, special gifts 25.4 percent, state 7.0 percent, town 10.1 percent, television 1.4 percent, and vending 13.0 percent.
Please see previous BLOG for the detailed list of income and expenses.
Fourth, Inc. is Formed
The Fourth of July Committee has always had many friends. Now, they've formed a corporation. The Friends of the Bristol Fourth of July Committee Inc., now exists as an organization, which can accept tax-exempt donations. Committee Chairman James W. Farley, Jr., corporation head.
Hattie Brown Award
During the 1987 celebration the Committee established a new civic award in the name of long- time faithful member Miss. Hattie Brown, who had died earlier in the year.
The Committee solicited nominees from the community who reflected Hattie’s giving, charitable, and ecumenical nature. Hattie was a prime example of civic responsibility: she dedicated her life to her synagogue, as-well-as the town’s other churches; she was a person who was always ready to lend a helping hand to people in need. Mary Ferguson received the award for 1987, presented at the Patriotic Exercises for the first time.
Herreshoff’s 1987 Town Budget
The Committee requested the town contribute an additional $500 for the 1987 celebration, for a grand total of $7500. Town Administrator Halsey C. Herreshoff (past Chief Marshal, 1984) said he would cut the request either by 10 percent or by 100 percent. “We’re into the Fourth of July for $50,000 already,” said Herreshoff. He further explained, citing $27,000 for police and $25,000 for public works costs related to the celebration.
At the town council meeting March 25, 1987, the council voted to restore $7,000 to the budget, earmarked for the Fourth of July Committee. Council President Anthony Iasiello told Chairman Farley; “I'll restore the $7,000, providing you don’t use it and give it back.” Knowing that the Committee had about $27,000 in the bank after last year’s celebration, the council agreed that the Committee was not starting from scratch and they had no dire need for the Town’s appropriation.
Move to Remove Carnival From Common
Town Administrator Halsey C. Herreshoff asked the Committee to look for another carnival site. Because of plans to improve and beautify the common, which included a new ball field, a new bandstand, and a tree planting program, all in tandem with the community playground, it was hoped that the beginning of a new focus on the town common would take hold. One of the moving factors was last year’s, Farley-authorized, tractor pulling contest, which tore up an expanse of grass and left muddy ruts in their wake. Chairman Farley admitted to the council; “I would like to see it fixed up, too, it looks awful.” One of the problems with the carnival was that Coleman Bros. Carnival pays the Committee $10,000 for its use, because of the large downtown walk-in trade. Other sites suggested were the High School athletic field and the former Nike Site at Roger Williams College.
The HMS Rose made a surprise visit to Bristol on Friday, June 4, “shelling” the harbor as its namesake did in 1775, but a lot less damage was done this time. The ship which was visiting Newport sailed into Bristol waters, and unannounced fired several rounds.
Joseph Janeiro acted as Orator for this year’s Patriotic Exercises. Joseph who with his two brothers were Chief Marshals for the 1985 celebration were close friends of Serophin DaPonte, Chief Marshal for the 1987 parade.
As part of his address, Janeiro remembered the Korean War and the severe wounds received by his brother Manny, a US Marine fighting in North Korea. He also recalled the sacrifices made by solders fighting in the jungles during the unpopular Vietnam War.
Two young Bristolians took part in the Excesses: Eric Rudy; son of Rev. Walter Rudy, Orator at the 1985 excesses, who sang the National Anthem, and Bragan Thomas, winner of the 1987 Bristol High School’s John L. Burke Oratory Contest, read the Declaration of Independence. In 1984, Eric Rudy was the winner of the oratory contest and he was Reader that year.
About 175,000 turned out for the 1987 edition of pomp, patriotism, and politicians. Like souvenir venders and soda salesmen, politicians also love a parade and Bristol had more than its share show up this year.
Parade Chairman Andrew Vorro limited the parade to nine divisions, in addition to the huge Chief Marshal’s Division. The parade didn’t appear any shorter than the usual 12-division parades of the past, but it did move faster.
Governor DiPrete drew a good round of applause, as he appeared followed by Lieutenant Governor Richard Light, Attorney General James O’Neill, General Treasurer Roger Begin and Secretary of State Kathleen Connell.
The state’s congressional delegation included an upbeat U.S. Representative Claudine Schnider, who waved a flag and returned shouts of greetings to admirers; a restrained U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell and U.S. Representative Fernand J. St.Germain who merely waved and smiled. U.S. Senator John H. Chafee marched in his usual place at the head of the Navy contingent.
It seemed every one of the parade watchers had a favorite or a friend among the thousands of marchers. There were a multitude of state and regional beauty queens; television personalities, state and nationally known; clowns, including lawyer Robert Healy, Chairman of the Warren School Committee who was easily spotted despite the clown make-up, by his trademark shoulder length hair and beard. The Vietnam Veterans received the loudest and most sustained round of applause as many of the seated crowd jumped to their feet and cheered.
The Vietnam Veterans of America handed more than 9000 small American flags to the cheering throng all along the parade route. Mike Marshall, a Bristolian, and Vietnam Veteran said, “It’s our way of saying ‘thanks’ to the people of Bristol for the reception they've given us.” Marshall and Joseph “Doc” Cavallaro had helped to raise more than $1,600 in two days to purchase the flags.
It was seventeen years previous when the Vietnam Veterans Against the War first wanted to march and the Committee denied them the opportunity to do so. Beginning about 1977 the veterans have been received by the parade viewers with applause and an outpouring of emotion usually reserved for a hero’s homecoming. The veterans have been so moved by their reception of recent years that they wanted to make the 1987 parade a special homecoming: they invited Vietnam Veterans from all 50 states to send representatives to march with them in Bristol.
Samuel R. Celone conducted the audit of Fourth of July Committee books and the Town Council received his report dated September 30, 1987 at their March 32, 1988 meeting.
Checking Account $4,140.64
Savings Account 180.18
Cash on hand 74.57
Total as of 09/30/87 $4,395.42
The two certificates of deposit, each for $10,000, were cashed and deposited into a statement savings account on October 10, 1986 and January 23, 1987.
Before the Town Council’s vote to accept the auditor’s report, Councilman Lou Cirillo stated that the town’s appropriation to the Committee should be released only if the Committee shows a need. He was of the opinion that the letter submitted does not state that the appropriation is warranted.
Councilman Marshall seconded Cirillo’s motion and the vote was unanimous to take the matter under advisement until Chairman Vorro could be present to show a need for the allocation.