Colorful parade marks 350th milestone
A parade commemorating the 1657 purchase of Quononacutt Island from the Narragansett tribe lit up the village festivities for the town's 350th anniversary. Crowds lined Narragansett Avenue to catch a glimpse of colorful floats, shiny horses and flag-toting scouts.
A color guard led the procession to its first stop at the newly completed municipal building, directly across the street from the Jamestown Museum. Town delegates spilled out of a surrey drawn by a team of twin chocolate horses. The flag-bearing guard stood tall as state and local officials stepped forward for the dedication of the town hall. Witnesses cheered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
And that's not all the spectators caught. Soaring sweets accented the celebration like graffiti at a ticker tape parade. Packets of sweet bread slices launched from the Portuguese American Citizens Club float landed in the arms of onlookers. Those lucky enough to bag a treat waved in thanks to the red and green vehicle.
A multi-colored sweet float labeled "The Sweet Life" showered candy over the heads of parade watchers. Those quick enough to raise a hand snagged flying sweets; others scrambled on the corner to pick up tasty treasures. "I like having candy thrown at me during parades," explained one of the float builders, Riley Greene, 11, when asked how the idea came about.
Morgan Greene, 7, and Graham Jamison, 12, helped throw, as well as eat, candy with Riley. Their families joined forces in the neighborhood to execute the happy theme, according to Jamison.
Scouts from Cub Scout Pack 1, six in all, deserve credit for a job well done, and will be remembered for posterity. The young uniformed troopers proudly bore their banner and flags for the walk from Lawn Avenue down the main drag. Scout Conor Kennedy, 8, admitted the fellows were tired at the end of the road, especially after patiently standing "for the big delay," of the dedication ceremony more than a block away. No one complained, however. The event was a special celebration, and they were present to recognize it. "Not too many scouts get to be in the 350th anniversary parade," Kennedy said.
A farm tractor carried a group of young supporters for the Land Trust. They brought messages asking all to keep preservation in mind, and support the campaign to save the island farms. A row of fire and emergency vehicles, antique and modern, followed in line waving at the crowd. Riding on the engines were waving volunteers, uniformed and ready for anything.
Other residents, on scooters, bikes, or foot, joined in the march with infectious grins. The streets themselves were decorated, from flowerpots on every corner, to red, white and blue flags standing in the wind at the Veterans' Memorial Park, East Ferry. Each flower-filled bucket along the parade route was accented with a laminated print of a historical photograph, offering a vignette of the island's past.
Conanicut Island's first land agreement may be viewed online at jamestownhistoricalsociety.org, or visit the authentic document on exhibit at the Jamestown Philomenian Library.