Gaspee Days are here again.
The annual celebration – which commemorates the 1772 burning of the HMS Gaspee, one of the formative events of the American Revolution – kicks off Saturday, May 18, with the Proclamation Ceremony in Pawtuxet Park at noon.
Ryan Giviens, president of the Gaspee Days Committee, said the approach of organizers for this year’s events is best summed up through the committee’s most recent slogan – “Celebrate History. Celebrate Community.”
“It reinforces what we have become in the 21st century …We’re trying to bring people together – educate them, celebrate with them and have a good time,” he said.
Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and Warwick Mayor Joseph Solomon are among the officials expected to be in attendance for the Proclamation Ceremony, which will be immediately followed by the Historic Walking Tour of Pawtuxet Village led by local students.
Memorial Day weekend will bring the annual Arts & Crafts Festival held on Narragansett Parkway in Warwick. More than 70 exhibitors will showcase their work, while food and entertainment – including live music each day from 1-4 p.m. – will be available in Pawtuxet Park.
The festival serves as one of the largest fundraisers for the Gaspee Days Committee. Its hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, and Sunday, May 26, and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday, May 27.
On the first night of the festival, the Block Party – a relatively recent, and increasingly popular, addition to Gaspee Days – will be held at the Aspray Boat House and Patio in Pawtuxet Park. Admission to the 21-plus event costs $5, and no coolers will be permitted.
As part of the Block Party, the band Salter’s Groove will perform from 6-7:30 p.m., followed by Neal and the Vipers from 8-11 p.m.
On June 1, the Warwick Symphony Orchestra will perform its “Symphony in the Park” concert in Pawtuxet Park followed by a fireworks display.
Music by Merlan Ensemble kicks off the event at 5 p.m., followed by a performance by the Pawtuxet Rangers at 6:30 p.m. before the orchestra takes the stage. Food and beverages will be available for purchase during the event, which has a rain date of June 2.
On June 2 at 11 a.m., the Rhode Island Yacht Club will host the Blessing of the Fleet. A parade of vessels will be blessed as members of the community look on from the club’s lawn.
The annual Gaspee Days Colonial Encampment in Pawtuxet Park, providing a recreation of colonial military life in 1772, will be held throughout the day on Saturday, June 8, and Sunday, June 9, starting at 10 a.m. The encampment is hosted by the Pawtuxet Rangers.
June 8 brings another several other events – the Ecumenical Service at Trinity Episcopal Church, located at 139 Ocean Ave. in Cranston, as well as the Gaspee Days 5K Foot Race and the 54th annual Gaspee Days Parade.
The service will be held from 8-9:30 a.m., bringing together members of the community for a non-denominational ceremony featuring the West Bay Chorale.
The 5K Foot Race begins at 9:30 a.m., with more than 1,600 participants expected. Registration for the race is available at gaspee.com/events/5k.
The parade begins at 10 a.m., with the route running along Narragansett Parkway into Cranston and concluding at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet. Thousands of people are expected to gather along the route.
The celebration draws to a close June 9 with “Sunday in the Park” from noon to 3 p.m. There will be music and a range of activities for families, as well as the annual Gaspee Days raffle drawing.
At 4 p.m., the cannon will be sounded, followed by the burning of the Gaspee silhouette.
To learn more about this year’s Gaspee Days celebration, visit gaspee.com.