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Our Opinion: A Berkshire July 4th tradition triumphantly marches back

Overhead view of the parade (copy)

A view of Park Square and South Street at the beginning of the 2017 Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade.

“Back with a Bang.” That’s the theme for Monday’s Fourth of July Parade in downtown Pittsfield, which will make a triumphant return after two painful years of pandemic-related absence.

Fourth of July observances

In fact, there will be more Independence Day festivities than you can shake a sparkler at throughout the Berkshires. Fireworks will bring the rockets’ red glare in North Adams, Williamstown and, of course, Lenox following local legend James Taylor’s traditional Tanglewood concert. A more modernized spectacle will illuminate the night sky over Wahconah Park with a laser light show following the Pittsfield Suns’ 6:30 p.m. game. The Williamstown Theatre Festival will bring America’s founding documents to life in dramatic fashion at the Williams College quad, while a reading of Frederick Douglass’ stirring speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” will take place at the Shaw Memorial Library in Plainfield. Add in a couple 5Ks and a handful of community cookouts and concerts, and you’ve got a lot of reasons to be thankful for celebrating July 4th in the Berkshires.

It looks like the weather will hold up, too. While forecasts show scattered thunderstorms for the weekend and Tuesday, those dark clouds are predicted to give way to a window of warm, mostly sunny conditions on Monday. Thank goodness for that. Given all that’s going on in America, we desperately need a common chance to put aside the dangerous divisions infecting our body politic and instead gather in communal revelry and shared reverence for our nation’s strengths, ideals, history and progress. For some, that might be difficult right now given the current trajectory of the country, but that makes it all the more necessary in this moment.

Fortunately, we have the perfect occasion with the welcome return of Pittsfield’s Fourth of July Parade and its offering of a grand time that cuts across the entire community. When COVID-19 limited our ability to gather in the ways that make holidays more special and life itself sweeter, it marked the first time the parade was canceled for two consecutive years in its 197-year history. In the spirit of the Founding Fathers on that fateful July day in 1776, though, we ought to show some undying optimism in the here and now despite the dark days in the rearview mirror. If the parade’s two-year absence was a historic loss, let its renewal mark historic jubilation.

The Eagle wishes our readers and all our fellow Americans a happy, healthy, peaceful and joyous July 4th weekend.

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