OLD BENNINGTON -- You ask around, from long-time Bennington residents to area historians, and no one can tell you with any certainty when the very last bona fide Fourth of July parade was held in town -- or whether there has ever been a July 4 parade through Historic Bennington.
The Friends of the Monument, along with partners Vermont Confectionary, The Bennington Tennis Center and The Bennington Battle Monument are now on a mission to bring back/and or create a new tradition in our area by staging the first ever "Fourth Of July Sidewalk March To The Monument" which will take place on Independence Day at noon in Historic Bennington.
This family-oriented walking parade that begins at the Catamount Tavern statue and ends at the Bennington Battle Monument is the brainchild of local video/social marketing expert and member of The Friends Of The Monument, Jeff Grimshaw.
"Last year was my first Fourth of July in Bennington and I just couldn’t reconcile the huge disparity in crowds at the fireworks display versus the much less attended events at what I believe to be the epicenter of July Fourth in our area, the Battle Monument," said Grimshaw.
"We love the Battle Monument and everything that it represents," said George McCain, the leader of the Friends of the Monument and proprietor of the Vermont Confectionary.
"What better way to honor Independence Day and Historic Bennington than staging this ‘March To The Monument.’ Our intent is for this event to become a unique and time honored area tradition."
"Our hope is that the ‘Fourth of July Sidewalk March To The Monument’ will deliver a significantly greater number of people to the Monument for our annual reading of the Declaration of Independence by local actor, Willy Jones," said Marylou Chicote, curator of the Bennington Battle Monument.
The annual reading will take place at 1 p.m. on July Fourth and should coincide with the conclusion of the March To The Monument.
"What a great way for area families to come together to celebrate America," said Bennington Tennis Center Head Pro, Seth Gabriel. "We are happy and excited to stand behind what we think will become yet another wonderful Bennington tradition."
The Fourth of July Sidewalk March To The Monument is open to anyone and everyone. Marchers are encouraged to wear America’s colors -- red, white and blue, carry flags, play instruments and come prepared to have a lot of fun.
The sponsors of the event will be giving away plenty of goodies to young participants. Kids will receive certificates for a free kiddie cones at the Vermont Confectionary, a free tennis clinic at the Bennington Tennis Center/ Bennington College Tennis Complex, plus two-for-one passes to the top of the Bennington Battle Monument.
All those who wish to March To The Monument should gather at the Catamount Tavern statue at noon on the Fourth of July.