Letter: Why I love this time of year in Bristol

Posted 7/3/24

As I drive over the Mt. Hope or Sakonnet bridges, I am grateful that I get to call this quirky peninsula my home.

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Letter: Why I love this time of year in Bristol


To the editor:

If you are lucky enough to live in Bristol, R.I., the momentum of July 4 starts Memorial Day weekend. This is when I begin noticing the preening and pruning of front yards, not just for the approaching warmer months, but because it seems to be the unwritten collective decision in our community that it is time to get ready.

We hang our American flags, not politically, but to place them for our fallen soldiers and to prepare our homes for the July 4 celebration. Our flag reminds us of why we have the freedoms we do, while we celebrate with our red, white and blue adornments.

“The flag belongs to all of us,” I find myself saying in defense of its placement on my otherwise slightly liberal front porch. I live on Constitution Street for goodness’ sake. The American flag is part of the uniform. Our famous street stripes get a fresh coat of paint, and so do we as I notice the addition of red white and blue to our outfits.

This time of year is thrilling. It is Bristol’s chance to show our literal stripes. We are an authentic, small-town family community. Really. Sometimes that tight knit closeness can feel a little incestuous, and like any small town, has its warts and wrinkles, but I know that I can call any of my neighbors at any time and they would be here in an instant. This is one of the many lovely aspects of small town living.

The knowing that July 4 will be here before you know it is part of the delight of the Bristol, R.I. community. “Have a good Fourth! See you at the concert! What time do you want to put our chairs out? Do you have space in the driveway for my car on the Fourth? Sure, I can do that … after the Fourth!” All familiar to anyone who lives here.

The buzz in the air is palpable from Memorial Day through July 4.

I know my neighbors by name, and I enjoy my community. When I run into town council and board members, we hug each other and smile brightly because we are all connected by this red, white and blue thread — whether we agree with each other or not.

As I drive over the Mt. Hope or Sakonnet bridges, I am grateful that I get to call this quirky peninsula my home.

I adore the hoopla of July 4, not just because it is America’s moment to remember why we are here in the first place, but also because it reminds me that I get to live in an old-fashioned town where I feel like I am on vacation every day.

July 4 reminds me that despite our differences, we are (or at least we try to be) one in spirit.

Thank you to this community and the Fourth of July Committee. We are so fortunate to have the volunteers we do.

Let freedom ring.

Alayne White

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.