Independence Day Celebration in Portsmouth / by Douglas Koski

Sinéad and I were in the Dover area after visiting with some friends and family.  Neither of us were quite ready to return home; so, after discussing some options, we decided to brave the streets of Portsmouth, NH.  

It was Portsmouth's day to celebrate the 4th of July, and Sinéad and I were expecting the city to be overrun.  We pulled into the extra parking at the community church (about a mile outside the center of town) and made the rest of the way on foot.  We were quite surprised to find that it was not as crowded as we had anticipated!

Leftist Marching Band

Local music was being played in different areas parts of the downtown area.  Sinéad and I found our steps leading us to a small marching band in front of North Church.  They played with the same vibrancy they presented their personal selves with.  

We enjoyed a few of their songs before we continued on our way.  Being in such close proximity to Ri Ra was proving to be too tempting a option for Sinéad.  She decided she needed to prolong her desire for chips and curry for a little while longer.  We set an unknown path to find the civil war reenactors.  

We Searched for Miles...

...and all we found was this statue of some guy on a horse.

Just kidding! (but not about the mileage...)  This is a memorial to Major General Fitz John Porter, and was just around the corner from where the reenactors were located.  We stopped and admired the statue for a moment before heading over to figure out the details of the marching and musket salute.

We Crested the Hill... 

...and found ourselves right in front of the reenactors we were searching for.  

Sinéad found a volunteer booth to see if she could get a read-out of how the march was going to proceed, but they weren't 100% sure.  They were able to offer an idea of what might be happening and we made our way to Leary field.  There we found another volunteer booth, but they too were not exactly sure how things were going to play out.  We decided it might be a good idea to sit while we waited to see what was going to happen. 

Sinéad and I took a spot in the outfield

next to the caution tape that we could only assume was put up to separate onlookers from the musket men during the salute.

There was a band playing at the base of the diamond.  They were doing fairly well with the songs they were covering too.  If we could have excluded the lazy parents barking trashy obscenities at their infant children (behind us) and the 2 barely-teen brothers trying to cause deafness to each other with poppers while their parents laughed at them (to the right of us), it would have been a very enjoyable experience.  The band continued to play, and occasionally peaked at the time waiting for an announcement to be made.  

The Reenactors Arrived Without Warning...

I thought I had been hearing drums approaching, but couldn't see anyone coming, and the music from the band drowned anything out until they were right upon us.  They marched on the opposite side of the fence until they reached the head of the diamond.  The band stopped playing for a while so that the marching band members could play a few songs.  Sinéad and I made our way to head of the diamond to get a better view.

Civil War Reenactors and Musket Salute


Once the Marching Band finished up, they formed up and marched back to the outfield for the salute.

I thought I could keep my composure to photograph the musket salute handheld, but I jumped all over the place when they fired.  The reenactors fired off a couple more times, but the volunteers for the event were blocking any potential shot i might have been able to take.  The musket salute wrapped up and the reenactors marched back off the field.

From there a flood of people started pouring in to get situated for the fireworks.  While we thought the display could have been amazing, neither of us thought it would outweigh the traffic nightmare that was sure to follow.  We took the opportunity to make our leave.  And, after another good bit of walking, we headed home.