Think the festivities kick off at 10:30am on the corner of Chestnut and Hope? Think again. Here are four little known traditions that happen before the parade even takes its first step.
Most of the churches in Bristol unite for The Ringing of the Bells at 6am. A tradition that’s been upheld for more years than anyone can seem to remember, it’s a peaceful and beautiful way to wake up to an otherwise loud and exciting day.
You might know that ABC6 is the official broadcast partner of the parade, airing it live right near Leo’s Ristorante on Hope Street. What you might not know is that the station also airs a Pre-Parade Show at 8am. Those already in town can catch the preview musical presentation for an ultimate parade sneak peek.
The Patriotic Exercises held in front of the Colt Memorial School at 8:30am mark the official opening of the day. Open to the public, the fairly formal ceremony includes pomp and circumstance customs like the Pledge of Allegiance and the introduction of the Bristol Town Council. Bristol resident Dr. Donald Farish, who also happens to be the President of Roger Williams University, is delivering the official patriotic speech this year.
Another decades-long tradition is the morning’s Military Fly Over. While it doesn’t start before the parade (well, that also depends on where you’re viewing it), it does happen within 15 minutes or so of the start. The RI National Guard is doing the honors this year, and depending on the fleet that’s available that day, expect anywhere from one to four high-profile military aircrafts to zoom over Bristol in spectacular fashion.