The staff at Ringwood Manor is thrilled to once again announce the details for the annual Declaration of Independence celebration.Wednesday, July 4, marks the event’s 20th year, having become a tradition for many families in the northern New Jersey area.The highlight of the event is a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the manor’s porch along with colonial crafters, activities, and demonstrations.The front lawn of the manor is transformed into a colonial town square with Revolutionary War reenactors from New Jersey Militia- Heard’s Brigade, the 35th Royal Sussex Regiment, Outwater’s Militia, the Friends of Long Pond Ironworks, Oakland Historical Society, the Passaic County Sheriff Mounted Patrol Unit, and individual volunteers. All help to celebrate the 243rd anniversary of American independence and bringing the historic experience to life.Following its creation, news of the declaration spread to the colonists through public readings, which took place in large centralized spaces such as town squares, churches, and taverns.The document was formally adopted on July 4, 1776. The first public readings of the document took place four days after its creation in front of large crowds in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Trenton, New Jersey, and Easton, Pennsylvania. A day later, on July 9, 1776, it was read aloud to Washington’s Continental troops in New York City.Readings of the document continued throughout the colonies during the months of July and August of 1776, with readings taking place from Watertown, Massachusetts and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to Halifax, North Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia. The celebration at Ringwood Manor attempts to recreate the same excitement felt by colonists when they first heard those famous words 243 years ago. The public is encouraged to arrive early to avoid traffic and potentially missing the event. Attendees can start the day by visiting 30 of the 51 rooms in historic Ringwood Manor, which will be open to the public in a self-guided format between 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The manor will close at that point to allow the ceremony and celebration to proceed as scheduled. The fee to enter Ringwood Manor is $3 for adults, $1 for children ages 6-12, with children 5 and under free.The carriage barn exhibit will be open to visitors, with the historic carriages on display. Additionally, the blacksmith shop will be open for viewing, with master blacksmiths demonstrating their craft throughout the day outside the building. The festivities of the event will begin in front of Ringwood Manor at 1 p.m., when colonial era toys and games will be available for visitors to play with. Visitors young and old can try to sign their “John Hancock” on a copy of the declaration using a traditional quill pen and ink.Colonial crafters, demonstrations, and displays will turn the front lawn of Ringwood Manor into an 18th century town square.An exhibit on Ringwood’s own Surveyor General Robert Erskine and his role in the American Revolution will also be on display. The ceremony itself will begin at 2 p.m. with a short introduction, noting that the afternoon recreates events that happened in the area spanning a three-year period, from 1775-77. A 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.After the debate concludes, the local militia unit will form and muster up as it did original in 1775. The declaration will be delivered to the front steps of Ringwood Manor by a horse and rider and read to the crowd by local reenactor, Larry Stephan, 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 in 1777 by Francis Hopkinson, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence representing New Jersey. After the flag is raised, the militia will perform a ceremonial musket volley. The bell atop Ringwood Manor will then be rung 13 times, concluding the ceremony. The public is then encouraged to stay as the celebration continues with children joining the Continental Army and learning military drills with the reenactors. The North River Historical Dancers will perform 18th century dances in the back gardens with members of the public who wish to join in. All are welcome to join the fun. Rich Wagoner will be back again this year demonstrating colonial beer brewing. New to the event this year are Humor Me Farm, with a display of weaving and spinning, and Metropolitan Chapter of the International Organization of Lace, performing bobbin lace making. There is no charge for the Independence Day celebration and event. There is, however, a parking fee of $5 per car for in-state residents and $7 per car for out-of-state residents to enter Ringwood State Park. 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.