How Glouster celebrates

Published 7:48 pm Friday, July 2, 2010

Several years ago, we vacationed in the northeast—several nights in Massachusetts and several nights along the coast of Maine.

Suffering through the heat and humidity here, oh to be there now.

Anyway, we hit Glouster, Mass., on the eve of Independence Day, July 3, and had a reservation at a bed and breakfast near downtown on the waterfront.

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Coming into town about 5 p.m., we noticed huge crowds lining both sides of the roadway, in place to view the Independence Day Parade, which was a major event on the eve of our nation’s birthday.

Because of the parade and street closures, we couldn’t get even close to the waterfront and our lodging, so we elected to drive on to the next small town, have a quiet dinner, then head back to Glouster, believing the parade would be over, the streets would be clear, and the crowds would have dissipated.


After the parade, everybody headed for the waterfront, where the Catholic church was holding its annual fund-raising carnival and Independence Day bazaar. Now if you have ever been to Glouster, it’s a seafaring town, with extremely narrow streets and small-yardless-houses all crammed together in extremely tight quarters. All vehicles are parked at the curb.

As the folks headed for the waterfront after the parade, their vehicles now jammed the narrow streets, making passage impossible. We then discovered that the streets would not clear until after the fireworks, scheduled for 11 p.m. We couldn’t go backwards or forwards, stuck in our car, in a narrow street jammed with more cars, all illegally parked and going nowhere.

We knew our bed and breakfast was on the waterfront, the same spot where thousands of folks waited for the fireworks to begin.

Well fireworks began, and went on and on and on. All we could do was sit in our car and listen to the battle, stuck for the remainder of the show.

Now the show is over, and it took another hour or two for everybody to find their cars, slowly, slowly work their way out of the narrow streets, so we could finally wend our way to our night’s lodging, many hours past scheduled time of arrival.

Early the next day, we noticed everyone heading out to the town park on the bluff overlooking the bay. There they spread out on the picnic grounds complete with ball fields, tennis courts and other amenities for huge family outings.

All those people who were on the waterfront the evening before, were now at the park with their portable grills, their picnic food stacked upon tables, cold beer in portable coolers.

They played baseball, tennis, made up other games, and planned to enjoy the Fourth of July as it was originally meant to be celebrated—with hoopla, fanfare, good eats and family fun.

Of all the years we have been in the South, we had never witnessed Independence Day celebrated as it was on these days in Glouster.

We believed there were several reasons.

One, on the grounds of the Northeast, the Revolutionary War was fought, so there are significant numbers of historical markers and destination points to visit and relive those events as constant reminders of the 1770s. So for the folks in the Northeast, the holiday has great historical significance.

Second, we figured everyone came outside for fun and frolic on this day because it was their first warm holiday of the year.

Third, in our neighborhood, our outdoor celebrations involve fighting the heat and the gnats, hoping that the evening’s fireworks event at the Boat Basin will have been preceded by a temperature-cooling thunderstorm.

July 5th finally dawned, and Glouster returned to normal. We wandered the fisherman’s wharf, breathed the aromas of the sea, visited the bar where several scenes were filmed from The Perfect Storm, and read the names on the monument of all those lost at sea.

Tomorrow, celebrate and ponder American history in your own way about Independence Day, the birthday of our nation, the war to free ourselves from tyrannical Britain, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, guaranteed freedoms and all the historical significance attached.

If nothing else, one thing is certain about this holiday—those folks in Glouster really know how to throw a party.