Red, white and brass: A patriotic picnic that hit all the right notes

Jul 5, 2024

Watermelon for red, whip cream for white and blueberries for blue make for a festive Fourth of July spread in the opinion of Dartmouth’s Jack Tripp, 5 — though he admits he’s not so much a fan of the blueberries.

“I don’t really like it because there’s actually like a grape inside,” he said.

Tripp joined his family on Thursday, July 4 at the Russells Mills Schoolhouse Fourth of July picnic, which is held annually through a collaboration between the Dartmouth Community Band and Historical and Arts Society.

Tripp said he enjoys making “red, white and blue things” for the holiday, such as the firework crafts he made recently at Friends Academy.

He spent the picnic riding around on his red and blue Spider-Man bike while waving American flags as the Community Band played out some patriotic tunes. Other kids joined along, dancing to the songs and waving flags of their own.

The picnic was held on the day of the holiday for the first time this year, according to Percussionist Neil Sylvia. Typically, it’s held the Sunday before, which had the band worried about turnout. 

However, a number of people from Dartmouth and even surrounding communities came out to celebrate and support the event. 

Westport’s Nancy and Tom White came out for the concert last year and having enjoyed it, they opted to come again.

Nancy said she appreciated that “it was fun [and] a lowkey kind of family atmosphere.”

Tom said when they were younger, they would often ride bikes for the holiday. Now, the lowkey event suits their needs with a dog at home who is “terribly afraid” of fireworks.

Nancy said the Fourth of July is “a time to remember how our country came about and what was involved and what the colonialists went through to have this become the United States.”

For Sylvia, the Fourth is not only a time for patriotism, but to truly appreciate the country’s different freedoms.

As a historical buff and the son of a U.S. Army veteran, he said, “To me, it means quite a bit.”

“I think it means quite a bit to people who made the ultimate sacrifices for this country to have the ability to argue and not see eye-to-eye. Not a lot of countries have that ability,” he added. “For better or worse, we have that — that’s wonderful.”

Dartmouth’s Joyce and Norm Lelievre said they come out for the picnic every year to support their daughter and son-in-law, Susan and Russ Benoit, who play in the band.

For the first time, their daughter Amy Giammarco was able to come down from North Providence for the holiday, with her son, Kyle Giammarco joining in on the music playing as well.

Amy said she was “excited” to hear the band play, adding how she’s heard “it’s a lot of fun.”

Norm said he liked the event because “it’s just very relaxing and it's the thing to do in the summer.”

He added he enjoys spending the holiday “relaxing, being home with family and thinking about the country.”