In many ways, Ryder Ferris is a typical 18-year-old. He loves to run, bike, surf, and be outside. He loves to read – Stephen King novels are his favorite – and studying US history. He was involved in a little bit of everything during his time at Mt. Hope High School, including performing with the Mt. Hope Masqueraders theatre group, captaining the cross-country and track teams, and acting as class president all four years. But Ryder is more than just a typical 18-year-old; he will also be the youngest Patriotic Speaker in the history of Bristol’s famous Fourth of July festivities.
“It’s pretty amazing and unexpected,” reflects Ryder. “It is such a tremendous honor, so I was a little confused as to why they chose me.” However, nominator and Bristol Fourth of July Committee member Dick Devault explained to Ryder that they were looking for something special this year, something they found in him. “They wanted a fresh voice, someone not really affiliated with politics or any specific group or organization, and to hear from a young person on what patriotism means today.”
The Fourth of July is a huge part of Ryder’s life. He’s grown up along the parade route, right on High Street, and remembers his home being a hub for friends and family on the holiday. He likes to declare that their little section of the parade is “by far the best on the whole route”, and recalls skateboarding around the empty streets or playing wiffle ball as the parade made its slow march up. Even as a youngster he was a part of Bristol’s patriotic celebrations; in fact, the Bristol Fourth of July Committee remembered Ryder speaking at Memorial and Flag Day events in elementary school.
As the Patriotic Speaker this Fourth of July, Ryder will share what he believes to be the meaning of patriotism and how he sees it in the world today.
“I can’t thank the Fourth enough for all the happiness it has brought me,” says Ryder. “It’s a little different knowing I’m going to be in the parade instead of watching it, so it’ll be a little surreal, but I’m excited to see it from a different perspective. I am so extremely thankful for having received this honor from the Bristol Fourth of July Committee, and I can’t wait for the festivities to begin!”