A blues festival, an open house, fundraisers, a walking tour, arts and crafts, a block party, colonial encampments, a road race, fireworks, a special WaterFire, an ecumenical service and 48 years of parades. The to-do list of the Gaspee Days Committee is long, but it is tackled by a group of volunteers dedicated to highlighting the history, tradition and sense of community in their part of the world.
“Our volunteers are very special; they’re very dedicated to Gaspee. It’s a special little place,” said Publicity Chair Erin Flynn.
According to his personal journals, George Washington celebrated the Gaspee affair in 1774. While celebrations have not been consistent since then, modern Rhode Islanders have made a point of observing the act of patriotism and its significance in the Revolution. The Gaspee Days Committee was formally established in 1965 by David Stackhouse, and the first modern parade took place the following year. Ever since, the celebration of this historic occasion has captured our attention.
The Gaspee Days Committee meets monthly for most of the year, adding additional meetings as May and June, the heart of the celebrations, near. There are roughly 40 members, who come to Gaspee for a variety of reasons.
“It’s a variety of things; for a lot of people it’s history, for some people it’s community involvement, for some people it’s how to meet your neighbors,” Flynn said. “Everybody sees the importance of keeping the magic, that special feeling we have in the village.”
Flynn also says the committee will accept any contribution of time, no matter how small.
“We’re very lucky in that we have this category that we joke about called Gaspee elves, which are folks that help and volunteer but don’t necessarily come to every meeting,” she said.
And that’s fine for the committee. They need one-day and even single-task volunteers for each of their fundraisers, all of which support the annual parade, a $45,000 endeavor that is a cornerstone for tourism in Rhode Island. All of the events, all of the efforts, are what make Gaspee what it is – a story that transcends time and engages a community.
“We’re celebrating a moment in history,” Flynn said. “It makes our community better.”
For more information on how to get involved with the Gaspee Days Committee, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, visit Gaspee.com, call 781-1772 or find them on social media at Facebook.com/GaspeeParade or on Twitter @GaspeeDay.