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Holiday Hours: Independence Day
10:55AM / Monday, July 01, 2024
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Above, the famous John Trumbull painting depicting the presentation of the Declaration to John Hancock. John Adams is standing on the right of the Committee of Five. Right, the Bill of Rights currently on display at Williams College.

Independence Day will be celebrated Thursday, July 4. It is a federal holiday marking the ratification of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

Representatives from 13 original colonies, of which Massachusetts was a leader, actually voted on July 2 at the Second Continental Congress to declare their independence from Great Britain. The Declaration formalizing the decision — and giving the reasons for doing so — was written by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as the principal author. The others were John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Roger Sherman of Connecticut and Robert Livingston of New York.

Adams, author of the Massachusetts Constitution, would write to his wife, Abigail: "The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival."

But it would be the adoption two days later that would live in the minds of his countrymen, helped by that large date inscribed at the top of the document. It would be signed the following month. One of the signers was Samuel Adams, for whom the town of Adams (and by extension, North Adams) is named.

Williams College holds one of the few original copies in existence and hosts a reading of the Declaration each Fourth of July.

Massachusetts would become the first state to recognize the day as a state celebration, in 1781. The Congress made it an unpaid holiday in 1870 and a paid federal holiday in 1938.

Both Presidents Jefferson and Adams, friends and political foes, would die on the 50th anniversary of the signing. In another bit of trivia, Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president and former governor of Massachusetts, is the only president to have been born on the Fourth of July.

Closed on Thursday:
Federal, state and local offices; no mail delivery.
Banks
Public colleges and schools, most private schools
Public libraries
Most offices and businesses
BRTA is not running Tuesday; offices are also closed.
North Adams Transfer Station on Thursday and Friday.

Open:
Most retail outlets, groceries
Restaurants and bars, by choice
Convenience stores

North Adams: fireworks will follow the SteepleCats game against the Sanford Mainers, game starts at 5:30 p.m.

Pittsfield: the Fourth of July Parade steps off at 10 a.m. from South and Housatonic Streets and marches down North Street to Wahconah Park with the theme "Stars, Stripes and Smiles — In the Berkshires." Fireworks follow the Berkshire Adult Baseball League game with the Great Barrington Millers facing off against the Housatonic River Monsters at Wahconah Park.

Williamstown: the annual Fourth of July Parade starts at 11 a.m. from Southworth to Main to Spring Street for a community hot dog cookout, a Brass-O-Mania concert at the post office and BAAMS concert at the Williams Inn. The WTF and college's reading of the founding documents at Sawyer Library at 1:30 p.m. and fireworks will be held over the Taconic Golf Club at 9, grounds open at 6. More activities listed here.

Boston: The parade steps off following the flag raising at City Hall at 9 a.m. and marches to the Old State House for a reading the Declaration of Independence; the annual fireworks follow the Boston Pops' performance on the Esplanade. Harborfest events run from July 1 to 4.

 

MassDOT is asking the public to plan ahead and to expect increased holiday travel. Customers are reminded that face coverings are required on all MBTA property, including vehicles, stops, and stations.

Some streets around the Boston Common will be blocked off for the fireworks on Monday night and the commuter rail's last outbound train will be held for riders returning from the fireworks. Airport travelers are advised to allow for extra time while getting to and from Logan Airport. Massport encourages travelers to use the MBTA Blue and Silver Lines, or the Logan Express to get to the airport. 

  • Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view real-time traffic conditions.
  • Dial 511 and select a route to hear real-time conditions on I-90 and other roads.
  • Visit www.mass511.com, which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information, and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions.
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