Not even an ongoing, unprecedented global health crisis was going to keep down the Gaspee Days Committee for a second consecutive year. When it became clear last summer that the committee was not going to be able to hold the annual parade and surrounding
Not even an ongoing, unprecedented global health crisis was going to keep down the Gaspee Days Committee for a second consecutive year.
When it became clear last summer that the committee was not going to be able to hold the annual parade and surrounding celebration – which attracts thousands of people to Pawtuxet each summer – due to health concerns, the gears began turning and fingers started crossing in hopes of making something happen this year.
And as the pandemic progressed and COVID-19 cases peaked and dipped and health recommendations changed week to week, it could hardly have been predicted at any point earlier this year that we would be at such an optimistic point in time as we are in this moment – looking forward to a Gaspee parade the likes of which we’ve perhaps never seen before.
There are a few reasons we’re looking forward to another Gaspee Days event and not lamenting another year where the tradition had to be put on hold – and a lion’s share of credit has to go out to the hardworking scientists, biotechnicians and virologists who put in work across the globe researching, developing and manufacturing safe and overwhelmingly effective vaccines at a speed which the world has never seen before.
The fact that Rhode Island is able to safely begin reopening and returning to a normal state of function right as we hit the state’s most crucial and economically important season is a direct result of this incredible scientific achievement. And as encouraged as we are that over 70 percent of Rhode Islanders are partially vaccinated by this point, there remains a shameful blight that vaccine doubters and conspiracy touters (here and throughout the nation) choose to continue to impede the progress of our recovery by espousing uninformed, fear-mongering contrarianism rather than accept indisputable scientific data. We will continue to advocate for all who can safely get the vaccine to get one, as soon as possible, and do your part to help end this pandemic for real.
We are simultaneously amazed at the generosity of the residents and corporate sponsors who put the money on the table to allow the parade to happen. The Gaspee Days Committee set their sights on a necessary fundraising goal of $35,000 to bankroll the parade. They took to crowd-sourcing the money through online donations, as so many causes in the past decade have done.
Through the generous giving of our neighbors, small business owners and community partners – along with incredibly generous gifts from Navigant Credit Union, an anonymous donor and some legislative muscle flexed by Rep. Joe McNamara to help secure a state grant – the committee blew past its goal and raised over $62,000.
The result of this outstanding success will be the return of an event that was sorely missed last year and will make a valiant return this weekend. It won’t look exactly the same – but then again, what has this past year? The annual 5K race will be virtual, meaning you can order your bib and T-Shirt and perform it anywhere. The arts and crafts fair, unfortunately, will not be held this weekend (one is planned for September, however), but you can enjoy the company of your neighbors and a cold beverage at Pawtuxet Park on Saturday from 1-5 p.m. – all for a $5 ticket (buy online at gaspee.com as tickets will not be available at the park).
And if you need some pyrotechnic catharsis, the fireworks will be going on as scheduled Saturday, June 5 from 9-10 p.m. (rain date Sunday, June 6) off the coast of Salter’s Grove. And the parade, bigger and better than ever, will step off Saturday, June 12 at 10 a.m. The burning of the Gaspee takes place that afternoon in Pawtuxet Cove.
Needless to say, we can all use some nice weather and a little celebration in our lives. We’re thankful to the Gaspee Days Committee for their efforts to revive this wonderful tradition from its pandemic-induced hibernation, and for all those who helped make it happen.