Cumberland, Glocester Fourth of July celebrations a go this weekend

Cumberland, Glocester Fourth of July celebrations a go this weekend


Two local long-standing Fourth of July traditions will be taking place this Saturday – both with a twist to keep residents safe.

The Arnold Mills Parade Association will celebrate its 94th annual July Fourth Parade and 52nd Road Race in Cumberland with a motorcade throughout the major roads in town and a virtual road race, replacing its traditional parade and race in order to abide by social distancing regulations.

In Glocester, the town’s popular July 4th Ancients & Horribles Parade will be substituted with a contest that invites residents to decorate their front yards in the same style as they would a parade float.

“I’m hoping they keep the Ancients & Horribles tradition alive (and) go crazy, go wild, and have a good time,” Tanya Botelho, chairwoman of the Ancients & Horribles Parade, told The Valley Breeze.

Whether you’re participating in the contest or driving by to see how people have decorated their yards, “we hope everyone enjoys what we’ve come up with,” she said. “We’ve worked hard to scramble to figure out how to still celebrate.”

While disappointed that they can’t host the full Arnold Mills Parade, “at least we’re going to have something,” said organizer Joyce Hindle-Koutsogiane. “I think that we can’t lose sight of what the big picture is: it still is the nation’s birthday (and we should) celebrate our country … in whatever way we can.”

The first recorded Arnold Mills Parade took place on July 4, 1927, led by Rev. Horatio H. Crawford of the Arnold Mills Methodist Church.

This year’s parade will start at 10 a.m., an hour earlier than usual to allow for more time, Hindle-Koutsogiane said, noting that the route will go further through town this year. “We figured that it might take us a little bit longer.”

The event route will begin at the state line and will proceed down Nate Whipple Highway (Route 120) to Mendon Road (Route 122). It will take a left onto Mendon Road proceeding at a parade pace through the town to Ann & Hope Way. Taking the left at Ann & Hope Way, it will proceed to Broad Street, take a left at the site of the Catholic Oak, then take a right after the Blackstone Memorial to Blackstone Street. Arriving at High Street, it will take a left and proceed on High Street as it becomes Diamond Hill Road (Route 114) and proceed back to Nate Whipple Highway taking a right toward the North Attleboro, Mass., line where it started.

The motorcade will consist of approximately 10 vehicles and Hindle-Koutsogiane said they’ll be blasting patriotic music, including some John Philip Sousa.

She said she hopes people come out of their homes and wave as the motorcade passes through town. “Come out and wave your flags,” she said.

Jack Thornhill, a 78-year-old Cumberland resident, will be honored as this year’s grand marshal, she said. Thornhill, who has participated in the Arnold Mills Road Race for the past 48 years, will be running again this year.

While the traditional four-mile road race, which began in 1969, won’t be held, runners can still participate in a race virtually. Participants must register online by midnight on Thursday, July 2, run four miles between Sunday, June 28, and Saturday, July 4, and submit their time online by 6 p.m. on July 4.

A few people, including Thornhill, will be running the morning of July 4 at 8 a.m., Hindle-Koutsogiane said.

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Since 1926 with the first Ancients & Horribles Parade, Glocester residents have spoofed local and national politics with floats in a parade down Main Street that’s known for its satire.

This year, instead of having regular floats, organizers are asking people to “make their yards their floats,” Botelho said, which allows them to “still participate in family tradition while still adhering to social distancing.”

Glocester residents and businesses will have until Thursday, July 2, to email their name, address and phone number to or message the group on Facebook at to register. Judging will take place at 3 p.m. on Friday, July 3. Winners will be announced for six categories: Most Ancient and Horrible, Most Patriotic, Best Spirit of ’76, Best Americana, Best Political, and Best Current Event.

While fireworks are traditionally part of the day, Botelho said they’re working to reschedule those for sometime in the fall.

A lot of people are excited and can’t wait to decorate, she said, adding that someone on Route 44 has already begun setting up.

“We’re hoping we get a nice turnout,” she said, adding that, with residents’ permission, they will post addresses on Facebook so people can drive by to see their decorations. “We look forward to seeing what everybody comes up with.”

The parade allows people to freely express themselves without having to conform to too many rules, she said, adding that the goal for the competition is to still allow people the chance to be themselves and have a good time.

“We are a small town committee of all volunteers working hard to continue (the) tradition,” she said. “We’re still trying to honor what the Ancients & Horribles Parade is about without walking in a parade.”