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CW Journal : Spring 09 : Colonial Williamsburg Fourth of July

Colonial Williamsburg Fourth of July

by J. Hunter Barbour
Photography by Dave Doody

Take a pinch of patriotism, blend it with a bit of Revolutionary City street theater, mix in a multicast reading of the Declaration of Independence at the reconstructed Capitol, add a dash of garden flowers in summer splendor, garnish it all with fireworks, and you have the recipe for a Colonial Williamsburg Fourth of July.

By the way, if you are after nourishment for the body as well as for the soul, fifty-nine continentals—twenty-five if you are six- to twelve-years-old—admits you to an evening Governor’s Palace picnic, where costumed interpreters, musicians, jugglers, storytellers, and balladeers perform in the gardens and grounds. That’s in addition to all the trade sites, homes, museums, and exhibitions open to regularly ticketed guests.

To help you picture it all better, Dave Doody, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s head of photo services and the journal’s mainstay photographer, spent last Independence Day in the Historic Area capturing some of the excitement. His cameras focused on actor-interpreters working to convey to guests the sense of 1776, moms and dads and kids participating in presentations up and down Duke of Gloucester Street, interpreters making one-on-one connections with grandparents and grandchildren, and Old Glory flying over the site of what once had been the seat of Great Britain’s first and largest New World stronghold.

The militia and the Fifes and Drums marched and whirled to martial tunes on Courthouse Square, and youngsters and veterans fell in behind them. The colors passed in review, and so did some of the spirit of the day when a rider from the North brought to the city the news of Lexington and Concord.

Of course, nothing says Fourth of July like the skyrockets and bombs that, as night falls, burst in midair over the restoration of the eighteenth-century Virginia capital. Doody’s lenses caught them, too. A sampling of his work appears on these pages.