|Gaspee Days Beginnings
Gaspee Day Parade photo on display in Cameron's Pawtuxet
It all began on a hot and humid
when a group of fifteen men women, representatives of businesses,
and patriotic groups in the cities of Cranston and Warwick met at the
Carder Tavern (home of Mr. and Mrs. L. Hazard Knowles) at 118 Road in
All present listened to an energetic man convey his idea of an annual
of the burning of the hated British revenue schooner Gaspee by
patriots in June, 1772.
The man was David Stackhouse,
Heritage Committee, who believed it was time to arouse people's
in the history of Pawtuxet Village.
"The Gaspee was burned right here on
explained, "but how many people know or even stop to think about the
behind it. This act saw the first blood shed before the Revolutionary
and was the first step in gaining our independence. Let's celebrate it."
The Gaspee Go-Getters
square dancing club won the coveted Best of Parade float award in 1966.
Stackhouse, with the help of Hazel
Kennedy, who he
to serve as secretary, mailed invitations to all local organizations
civic groups asking them to send one representative to the first
in October, 1965. Thanks to Edward Yatsko, who was associated with
& Winograd on Warwick Avenue, the committee began meeting on the
floor. This building was soon named Gaspee House, and the committee met
here for sometime.
There were 60 people at the first
sign the original charter. The celebration was a weekend of activities
from June 3 - 5, 1966. The committee received $5,500 from the State and
the cities of Warwick and Cranston.
The name Gaspee Day Committee was
suggested by Hap
and the charter was written by Eugene McCaffrey, who would later become
Mayor of Warwick
- The first Gaspee
proclaimed by Governor
John H. Chafee
as June 4, 1966, the first Saturday of the month.
- Area restaurants
the occasion's colonial
such delicacies as bear venison, johnnycakes, hasty pudding, Indian
and pumpkin pie. Drinks included "flip", an ale mixed with egg, and
a frothy mixture of wine or cider with milk or sweet cream.
- The Grand
of the first Gaspee Day
92 year old Walter Whipple of Warwick, a direct descendant of Abraham
who led the Gaspee Raiders in 1772. He wore a tricorner hat and drove
an antique car with his daughter.
- In 1966, the 18th
century cannon from the Newport
boomed from the Pawtuxet Bridge as the bells in the steeple of the
Baptist Church tolled from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. A memorial service was
at the Church at 11:00 a.m. and the parade began at 2:00 p.m.
- Four members
the William Shields VFW Post,
three replicas of the 13 star Betsy Ross flag and presented them to the
Committee. One Gaspee Day, they were flown over the State House and the
city halls in Warwick and Cranston.
- May 1966 was the
year for a three hour
on Narragansett Bay, running a triangle from Gaspee Point across the
to Bullocks Point and back along Pawtuxet Neck. Trophies were awarded,
and these races continued for six years.
- An all day
symposium was held the first
at either the Pawtuxet Baptist or the John Waterman Arnold House, home
of the Warwick Historical Society. Luncheon followed at The Bank Cafe.
- For many years,
was a display of historical
at the Pawtuxet Baptist Church
Left: The Grand Union flag, which
had been adopted by the Colonies at the time of the burning of
was displayed throughout Pawtuxet Village during Gaspee Days..
- The second year,
Committee formed a speakers
three men who visited schools and organizations; showing slides of the
- On June 3, 1966,
first band concert, followed
was held at Salter Grove.
- A statewide poster
contest for junior and senior
students was held the second year. The winner was a South Kingstown
School student who received a $25 savings bond.
- Warwick's First
Republican Club held the first
in Salter Grove on Sunday June 5, 1967. It became so popular that it
to be limited to 300 people. The Republicans donated the profits to the
building committee, and $400 was raised the first year.
- For several years,
Ward One Democrats held a
near the Zayre Store (now Shaw's) on Warwick Avenue. Proceeds also went
to the Gaspee Committee.
- The first
Children's Costume Contest trophy
by Councilman Fred Connell and was awarded in 1968.