Bristol parade hasn’t been canceled since 1901

BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — The town of Bristol is making preparations for its annual Fourth of July parade and for the first time in more than a century, there’s a possibility it could be canceled.

It takes a lot to cancel the nation’s oldest Fourth of July celebration, but Tropical Storm Arthur could bring lightning or flooding to the area, both of which would force organizers to call it off.

Bristol gets ready for the Fourth the way the rest of the country gets ready for Christmas – decorations galore, and a fervent energy in the air as the big day approaches.

“It’s the biggest thing that happens all year,” said general chairman Ray Lavey. “There’s, on a good day, maybe 125,000 people here, and the town has 23,000 population.”

Since the parade’s inception in 1785, the event has not happened only five times – and the last time was after President William McKinley was assassinated in 1901.

“My very first year on the committee it poured, like poured, and it still goes on and people are still sitting there waiting for the parade to go by,” said parade chairman Donna Falcoa. “Bristolians are very tough, and Rhode Islanders are very tough. We don’t let much get us down.”

Parade organizers will be keeping a close watch on the weather, but won’t be making any decisions too far in advance.

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