PISCATAWAY, NJ — To kick off a weekend of activities celebrating America’s 241st birthday, township families and friends gathered on the Metlar-Bodine House Museum’s lawn for a Star Spangled Sing Along with Piscataway student choirs singing patriotic songs from as long ago as the 18th century.
The weather cooperated for the sunny, late Saturday morning event at the township's official historical museum where Fiddler Stanley Greezs dressed in period clothing and greeted guests with familiar instrumental tunes such as Yankee Doodle Dandy before later performing in the sing-along.
Jeff Maschi, president of The Fellowship for Metlar House gave a brief history of how the first celebration of the country’s independence from the British took place in Piscataway near the present day Landing Lane Bridge.
“Our mainstream Independence Day tradition began right here, along the Raritan River in Central New Jersey,” said Maschi.
“During the first week of July 1778, General George Washington’s headquarters was at Ross Hall by the banks of the Raritan River where 11,000 troops were camped,” he continued. “It was here that Washington crafted a holiday for all Americans to share, ordering, for the first time, the American Army to celebrate the 4th of July,” with soldiers lining the banks of the river to fire their rifles, a three-hour celebration.
Members of the Randolphville Elementary School Choir led the crowd as they sang other patriotic tunes such as the Star Spangled Banner, My Country Tis of Thee, and You're a Grand Old Flag.
Students from Piscataway High School’s Tri-M Music Honor Society performed America the Beautiful and This Land is Your Land. And actors from the school’s theater department delivered Christine Trevino’s poem, Freedom is Not Free.
Guests were later treated to slices of birthday cake served by volunteers from the Metlar-Bodine House Museum.
Independence celebrations and commemorations will continue around Piscataway’s historic district and New Brunswick through the official Tuesday holiday when the annual fireworks display begins at 9:30 p.m.
For a complete list of Middlesex County's revolutionary celebrations, including complimentary trolley rides between the township’s historic sites and East Jersey Old Town Village, visit www.middlesexcountynj.gov.
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