July 4, 1916 A Spectular Event Planned

Redd's Pond Parade editedPond Street Association Arch      photo from my personal collection.

Fourth of July in Marblehead 100 years ago   Tuesday July 4, 1916

Marblehead does a fine job of celebrating the 4th in current times, but I came across the extensive program that was held in 1916.  It sounds like a lot of great times and those ‘Headers knew how to party for long periods of time.  The celebration in 1916 was celebrated under the direction of the Pond Street Association (PSA) and events were planned for over 26 hours. The Pond Street Associates was a group of neighbors from Pond Street that formed a group around 1914.  They were Arthur Hennessy, William D. Wright, Chester Dane, Herbert Hamilton and William Day.   This particular year there were a few weather delays but almost all events were held.  The following was the schedule as it was planned.

Celebrations started on July 3 at 8:00 PM with a band concert by the Marblehead Band from the M.A. Pickett Association headquarters. This continued until midnight with many families and visitors in attendance.

12:01 AM July 4    A National 21 Gun Salute was held

12:10 AM One million firecrackers were set off in front of the Pond Street Associates headquarters

1:30 AM Illumination of Redd’s Pond with 1000 pieces of red fire ( (I assume they were flares)

1:45 AM Display of water fireworks at Red’s Pond

2:15 AM A great and spectacular naval engagement ending with the destruction of a battleship by a torpedo.  This was held in Redd’s Pond with a miniature replica of a battleship 25 feet long, sailing majestically up the pond and was open fired on from a fort constructed on the shore. The weapon was a large roman candle electronically decorated.  There was a short siege, a torpedo boat was set out from the shore, submerged, fired its missile and the battleship was to blow up.  The submarine would emerge the victor with the flag waving over her.  This would have worked better if some little pranksters had not been fooling around with the wires before the show. The torpedo hit the battleship broadside and the boat didn’t sink.

There were about 7000 people in town to view these opening events and they started for their return trips home at about 2:00 AM in the electric cars, automobiles and jitneys.

The three arches which had been made for the previous year’s celebration were once again set up on Pond Street and decorated with red, white and blue electric lights.

2:45 AM   15 minutes for sleep

3:00 AM After the crowd had dispersed the committee in charge loaded the club cannon onto an automobile and proceeded to serenade a large portion of the town and at sunrise the cannon was taken over to Old Burial Hill, the salute was fired and  the flag raised.

7:30 AM the band concerts started again with the Marblehead Band performing at Atlantic Square and the Harris Bank playing in Town House Square

8:00 AM The Marblehead Band would march to Pond Street where they met with the 10th Deck Division and the Marblehead Navy Band.  The Harris Band was joined by the Boy’s Brigade and the Boy Scouts.   All would meet at Pond Street.

8:15 AM one blast of the fire alarm notifying that all automobiles be cleared on the parade route.

8:30 AM Two blasts on the fire alarm and the parade would begin from Pond St.  – Green – Elm – Spring and countermarched to Mugford – Washington – Pearl – Elm – Green  to Pond where they  ended.  The review stand and judges were at the Gerry School Playground.  About 600 – 700 children representing individuals and collective exhibits as well as decorated doll carriage participated along with the bands and decorated automobiles.

9:45 AM The reading of the Declaration of Independence by Representative John N. Osborne from a platform in front of the Pond Street Association headquarters, followed by a naval flag raising

10:30 AM   Another band concert on Pond Street and sporting activities under the direction of Mr. William E. Smith were held.  Some of the events included 100 yard dash, 50 yard dash, flag race, hoop race, ball throwing, candle race, wheelbarrow race and potato race.  Prizes were awarded.

12:30 – 1:30 Folks were finally given a dinner intermission

1:30 AM Daylight fireworks which were high powered bombs fired from a mortar to the height of about 300 feet where they burst distributing small presents  to children, about 40 gifts per bomb.

2:00 PM Band Concerts at Atlantic Square and Seaside Park

3:15 PM Marblehead Athletic Association baseball game vs. St. John’s of Cambridge at Seaside Park

5:00 PM Afternoon siesta

7:30 – 8:30 PM Band Concert at Seaside Park

7:45PM the illumination of Pond Street with 1000 paper Japanese lanterns

8:30 PM The grand illumination of the hills of the lower division of town in which 50 boy scouts set up 1000 pieces of red fire on the prominent outcroppings from Pond Street to Beacon Hill.

8:45 PM Fireworks display

10:15 PM   Good  night.

Things went as planned up until sunrise on the 4th when the rains began.  It was decided to postpone the rest of the events.  The fireworks were held the following evening. It amazed me how fast they could plan and change events and everyone knew about it and attended, including the out of towners and there was no Facebook or cell phones.

Activities resumed Wednesday evening when Pond Street from Mugford Street to Redd’s Pond was decorated with strings of Japanese lanterns every few feet and was very impressive. They were lit about 8:00 PM and burned until the end of the festivities. The Marblehead Band played in the Square until the fireworks began .  At 8:45 the Boys Scouts did their illumination from Pond Street to Beacon Hill.  The aerial display was then set off with many bombs and rockets and some smaller pieces.  The most spectacular display was the bright white piece with the silver shower and the two pillars with the insignia P.S.A. July 4 (Pond Street Association) .  This event ended about 10:00 PM with an estimated crowd of about 10,000 people.

The events of the 4th were concluded on Saturday with the daylight fireworks for the children, the parade which was held but with less participants and after the parade the sporting events were held.  So despite a few setbacks all events were held over the week and it appears a great time was had by all.   I wish I had a time capsule to go back in time and witness these events.

Here is to a glorious 4th 100 years later, sure to be a great time in Marblehead.   My favorite activities are listening to the bells toll and watching the fireworks over the water.  Nothing beats the reflection of fireworks over water.  If only I could improve my camera skills and learn to get some good photos.   What are your memories and favorite activities?

Part II of this blog will appear next week with the parade and sporting events winners. Maybe you will find your relative’s name in the list. 

Bombs Bursting in Air



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