MANCHESTER - Break out the flags and the patriotic bunting. Fourth of July festivities in town are shaping up, mixing the traditional amusements with something new and different.

On Friday, July 4, the town will celebrate the United State's 238th birthday with fireworks, a celebration of the Civil War era Equinox Guard and all sorts of fun.

Liz Ambuhl, director of Parks and Recreation, said the Lion's Club will be serving food at the Dana Thompson Memorial Recreation Park from 5 to 9 p.m. The town pool will be open to the public free of charge from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The main event, fireworks and a tribute to the Equinox Guard, she said, will be starting around 9. The fireworks will go off at 9:30 p.m.

Greg Cutler, the narrator of the tribute and one of the coordinators said this presentation will be fun.

"The fire works here have included a pretty elaborate audio presentation, focusing on something patriotic about Manchester," he said.

Last year, the tribute spotlighted on Manchester resident and World War II veteran Wendell "Wendy" Cram. This year, as a part of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, the focus is on the Equinox Guard, a Civil War unit from Manchester. Many of them, Cutler said, lost their lives in the line of duty during campaigns in Virginia during the War between the States.

The Equinox Guards took significant casualties during one battle in 1862 during the "Peninsula Campaign" in Virginia, when Union troops under the command of Gen.


Advertisement

George McClellan approached, but were eventually turned away, from Richmond, Va., the Confederate States capital. The unit was broken and decimated in the Battle of Savage's Station, on June 29, 1862, when it sustained heavy casualties in a rear guard action while covering the Union Army's withdrawal. The extended Cummings family of Manchester saw four of five brothers killed in the combat, and the fifth taken prisoner. One of their cousins and a brother-in-law were also killed.

The presentation will feature local actors in a recorded presentation, a recounting of their exploits, as well as a rendition of the Battle Hymn of the Republic by the Dorset Choir.

"It's really theatre of the mind ... like old radio style," Cutler said.

The funding for this presentation comes from the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership Education and Outreach grant.

Weather has been an issue in the past, so Cutler recommends showing up a little early if there is a possibility of bad weather. While the presentation should take about 15 minutes before the fire works are scheduled to go off, it could start early if necessary.

Along with the tribute to the Equinox Guard, there will be music before the fireworks and the Manchester Rotary Club will host a Cow Plop Bingo contest from noon to 4 p.m. The grand prize is $1,000. There is still time for anyone interested in being a sponsor for the event to sign up. Those interested should contact Liz Ambuhl, the park's director, at 802-362-1439.