Connecticut Town Celebrates 40th Spontaneous Fourth of July Parade

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The town of Lyme Tuesday will be observing its 40th annual impromptu Fourth of July parade that began when the son of a local pediatrician complained that nothing ever happened in town on Independence Day.

After hearing his son's comment, Dr. William Irving headed to the kitchen and grabbed some pots, pans and wooden spoons to bang on them as well as 13 tea bags.

Irving then gathered his brood in a group to march down Cove Road waving American flags. The first parade spanned the length of a city block to the cove. Once there, Dr. Irving recited passages of the Declaration of Independence and threw 13 tea bags into the water to commemorate the Boston Tea Party and the 13 original colonies.

"It was very impulsive and everybody just rallied," Bruce Irving, the young boy who had complained to his father said. "We just made a little noise."

Bruce Irving is now 56, and living in Avon.

At that first parade, marchers fired off some shotgun blanks, shouted "hip hip hooray" and went home and had some Popsicles, Dr. Irving told The Day of New London.

After the first parade, the next year cousins and friends joined the Irving family parade and as years passed, neighbors and more people joined.

Eventually a fire truck got involved and people with antique cars and floats began to participate. None of the marchers were asked to come. They just showed up.

The recipe for the first parade has been essentially unchanged since, according to Dr. Irving. He says there have been no organizers, no committees, no treasurers and no grand marshals.

Despite little publicity, except for a short blurb in the local newspapers and a crayon-designed poster displayed in the window of the H.L. Reynolds Co. General Store, the parade has grown over the last four decades, mostly by word of mouth.

"There are a lot of people who watch it, but there are a lot more people who march in it," Bruce Irving said.