In the late 1940s, local parents organized a children's parade that circled Andover's Town Green on the Fourth of July. Over the years, the celebration took on a life of its own, and--in recent decades--this little town of 2,400 souls has become a destination for thousands looking for a slice of American patriotism served up with the innocence of a bygone era. An extended flea market attracts bargain seekers.
Year after year, I have posted articles following the holiday suggesting that nothing--absolutely nothing--changes about Andover's Independence Day celebration, and it is true that much remains the same. At ten o'clock, Margo Coolidge sings the National Anthem.
Year after year, we are treated to the scent of grilled onions, peppers and hot Italian sausages, served up for $6.00 by Andover Snowmobilers.
On the lawn east of Ives House, Proctor faculty and staff peddle unwanted valuables and junk.
East of Maxwell Savage Hall, the Kearsarge Community Band plays patriotic songs in the shade of a tamarack.
The chapel is converted into a used book store.
At noon, I assist local elementary school kids who--as reward for a year's perfect attendance--ring the school bell to signal the start of the parade. The parade is huge, winding its way from the fieldhouse down North Street, then westward on Main Street, past a reviewing stand in front of a cheering throng. Could this be our little town?
The parade always features the Drum & Bugle Corps of Concord's Bektash Temple, a Shriners' Organization that supports hospitals for children and burn victims across the country.
Andover Lions Club feature a restored Concord coach drawn by magnificent horses.
And Leapin' Lena makes yet another appearance.
Yet, even at Andover's Independence Day celebration, incremental change is possible. In recent years, the parade has featured the stirring skirl of the New Hampshire Pipes and Drum Corp, which is one of the finest anywhere.
And a home-made float such as Miles Hurlbutt's is completely novel. Was there any doubt that this would win the prize for best float?
Jake's Market is overrun!
At ten o'clock, the crowd focusses, as Scouts raise the flag.
The "Nearest The Pin" contest runs until 1:00 PM on Carr Field.
Book lovers bear stifling heat in the chapel.
This is a real tradition!
Elementary school kids with perfect attendance take turns ringing the bell atop Maxwell Savage to start the parade (and get their photos in the local newspaper.)
Three bucks buys you a slice of fresh, homemade pie from Andover Service Club, which raises money for scholarships.
The pipe and drum band--featuring plenty of talented youth--offered a concert next to Maxwell Savage following the parade. The power and volume of this music triggers much emotion in the audience!