Celebrate the Declaration

Declaration will be read at 2:30 p.m.

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  • Photo provided This reenactment reading of the Declaration of Independence happened at Ringwood Manor on July 4, 2010. This Friday, it happens again. All are invited to celebrate the birth of the nation.

Looking for something fun and educational to do with the family on Independence Day this year? Come to Ringwood Manor for the annual Declaration of Independence celebration!

On Friday, July 4, Ringwood State Park will mark its 15th year holding the Independence Day event. The event features a dramatic delivery and reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the Manor's porch along with colonial activities and demonstrations. Revolutionary War reenactors from New Jersey Militia - Heard's Brigade, the 35th Royal Sussex Regiment, Outwater's Militia, the Friends of Long Pond Ironworks, and individual reenactors help celebrate the 238th anniversary of American independence and bring the experience to life.

The Declaration of Independence was formally adopted on July 4, 1776. News of its creation spread to the colonists in America through traditional public readings in large, open places such as town squares, churches, and taverns. The first public reading of the document was to a crowd in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776, four days after its creation. A day later, it was first read aloud to Washington's Continental troops in New York City. The celebration at Ringwood Manor attempts to recreate the same excitement first felt when colonists heard those famous words 238 years ago.

The festivities will begin in front of Ringwood Manor at 1 p.m., when colonial era toys and games will be available for children to play with. Young and old can sign their "John Hancock" on a copy of the Declaration using a traditional quill pen and ink. Colonial crafters, demonstrations, and displays will help to create an atmosphere of a town square in front of Ringwood Manor.

The ceremony itself will begin at 2 p.m., with a short introduction about the history of the area and the Declaration of Independence. A lively debate among members of the crowd will break out, involving British soldiers, area Loyalists, and the supporters of the cause for independence, the colonial rebels.

Soon after, the Declaration will be delivered to the front steps of Ringwood Manor by a horse and rider. The document will then be read to the crowd at 2:30 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to listen closely and cheer and jeer during the reading. Following the reading, the British "Grand Union" flag will be replaced with the first version of the new country's flag, known as the "Hopkinson" flag. It was designed by and named after one of New Jersey's signers of the Declaration of Independence, Francis Hopkinson.

After the flag is raised, the militia will perform a ceremonial musket volley and cannon firing. The bell atop Ringwood Manor will be rung thirteen times to conclude the ceremony.

The public is encouraged to stay after the ceremony as the celebration continues! Children are encouraged to join the Continental Army and learn military drills with the reenactors. Eighteenth century baked goods will be available to purchase from the Sugar Loafe Baking Company. The North River Colonial Dancers will be back again this year and performing 18th century dances in the back gardens with members of the public who wish to join in!

Free watermelon slices are available to everyone who attends. All are welcome to join the fun!

There is no charge for the Independence Day celebration. There is a $5 parking fee to enter Ringwood State Park for in-state residents, and $7 for out-of-state residents. The event will take place rain or shine. Tickets to enter Ringwood Manor are $3 for adults, $1 for children ages 6-12, and children 5 and under are free.

Independence Day at Ringwood Manor is sponsored by the North Jersey Highlands Historical Society and the Ringwood State Park staff.

For information, call 973-962-7031 ext. 0 or visit www.RingwoodManor.org.

Ringwood Manor is located at 1304 Sloatsburg Road, Ringwood.

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