June 18, 2004
Become a part of America's Independence Day celebrations in the town that helped start a nation
Colonial Williamsburg this year invites Americans to step back in time and join their nation’s July Fourth festivities in the town that helped make America free.
Independence Day activities in the restored 18th- century capital of Virginia celebrate the momentous news arriving from Philadelphia in 1776: a dozen British colonies have followed Virginia’s lead–a decision made in Williamsburg–to choose the path to open rebellion and revolution. The special weekend celebration begins Friday, July 2 with a variety of compelling and interactive programs that continue throughout the weekend. The celebrations culminate with Sunday’s July 4 reading of the Declaration of Independence, a popular and longstanding tradition, and spectacular fireworks.
Friday, July 29 a.m. – 5 p.m. “To Protect American Independence: Military Activities at the Powder Magazine.” Guests are invited to explore special displays, demonstrations and interpretations that tell the story of the American military of the Revolutionary War. (This program will run throughout the weekend).1 p.m. “Change is Coming” at the pasture next to the Cabinetmaker Shop. Gowan Pamphlet, a Baptist leader in the free black and enslaved community, preaches on the promise of liberty.1:30 – 4:30 p.m. “Children’s Games and Activities” on Palace Green. Young guests are invited to participate in 18th-century children’s games and activities. (These activities will be repeated 10 a.m. to noon July 3 and 1 to 4 p.m. July 4).7:30 p.m. “Jefferson and Adams” at the Kimball Theater. Howard Ginsberg’s three-character stage play tells the story of the turbulent 50-year friendship through the correspondence of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Abigail Adams. (This program will be repeated at 3 and 7:30 p.m. July 3).
Saturday, July 39 a.m. – 5 p.m. “The Widow’s War” at the Peyton Randolph site. Peyton Randolph, president of the First Continental Congress died in the fall of 1775. Now his widow, Elizabeth Harrison Randolph, must manage his estate against the backdrop of revolution. The community of 27 slaves who reside at the Randolph property must decide whether to stay with their mistress or run to the British in search of freedom.10:30 – 11:30 a.m. “My Heart Holds True to the Red, White and Blue.” Celebrate patriotism at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum as you explore the galleries for images of the American Flag, the Bald Eagle, Lady Liberty and even George Washington, then create your own piece of Patriotic Folk Art.Noon “A Friend in Need,” Governor’s Palace Gardens. French General, the Marquis de Lafayette, discusses his involvement with in the War of Independence and the vital support of the French army and navy in the American victory at Yorktown.1 p.m. “Unwavering Black Patriots” at Market Square. Meet the African-American soldiers of the Rhode Island Regiment.
Fourth of July festivities begin in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area at 10 a.m. with “A Salute to the States” on Market Square featuring the Williamsburg militia, Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums, cannon salutes and Revolutionary-era flags representing each of the 13 original colonies.
At 10:45 a.m. at the Capitol, a re-enactment by Patrick Henry of the first official 1776 reading in the City of Williamsburg of the Declaration of Independence, recalls the principles and ideals that first took root in Williamsburg.
High above the 18th-century Historic Area, an Independence Day show of incredible fireworks lights up the sky at 9:15 p.m. concluding the Fourth of July celebration. The fireworks, which will be launched this year from a secure area of the Custis Tenement Pasture, adjacent to Colonial Williamsburg’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, will be best viewed from the Governor’s Palace Green and Market Square.
Fourth of July Schedule at a Glance:10 a.m. “A Salute to the States” on Market Square featuring the Williamsburg militia.10:45 a.m. “Reading of the Declaration of Independence” at the Capitol by Patrick Henry.Noon – 4:30 p.m. “To Protect American Independence: Military Activities at the Powder Magazine.” Special displays and interpretations of the American Military of the Revolutionary War.1 p.m. “A Public Audience with Patrick Henry” in the Governor’s Palace Gardens. Mr. Henry speaks on American Independence.2 p.m. “In Common with all other Men” on Market Square. African-American soldiers of the Rhode Island Regiment read a petition written by Bostonian African-Americans following the Declaration of Independence.2 p.m. and 4 p.m. “The Roots and Branches of American Music” in the Hennage Auditorium of the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Celebrate the diversity of American music with folk musician Bob Zentz. This fun concert, presented with a sense of history, humanity and humor, explores the origins of American song and tunes, and the stories behind the musical instruments on which they are played. The one-hour program is included in all Colonial Williamsburg admission tickets, except the Colonial Sampler Ticket, but requires a free reservation that can be made at any Colonial Williamsburg ticket location.9:15 p.m. Fireworks viewed from the Governor’s Palace Green and Market Square light up the sky.
United States active, reserve, retired military members and veterans with valid ID or discharge documents, and their families, will receive two-day free admission to Colonial Williamsburg July 3-4 or July 4-5.
Lorraine C. Brooks