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In the late 1970s, the economy was so bad that the Town of Plymouth couldn’t afford to put on a Fourth of July celebration. Ken Tavares, who was working at a Plymouth bank at the time, remembers thinking, “America’s hometown can’t go without a parade. It just didn’t seem right.”

So he, along with his friends Bruce Arons and Rich Freyermuth, decided they would take it on themselves. In that first year, 1979, they managed to put together a parade. Since then, it has continued to grow – albeit with many obstacles and a few setbacks along the way – to where it’s now an all-day event.

In the morning, the July Fourth celebration includes an 5k road race (now in its 9th year), starting at Plymouth Rock. Next comes the parade, winding its way into downtown from the north and down to Water Street. After a pause – during which many people around town host backyard gatherings – there is evening music on the waterfront – featuring the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra – and finally, fireworks over the harbor.

The fact that three individuals stepped up to save the Fourth of July celebration decades ago is impressive, but more significantly, the nonprofit they started – July 4 Plymouth – is still running the show 45 years later.

Ken Tavares has been a mainstay of the town’s Fourth of July activities for decades. Credit: (Tavares family photo)

With a small all-volunteer organization and a budget this year of $126,000, there is always a tremendous amount of work to do. (There have been times when the group had to practically beg for donations at the 11th hour.) But Tavares, soon to be 79, says it mostly been a fun ride.

“What I have always gone by is the smile on people’s faces,” he said. “Not only just children, but adults…people who would say to me, ‘My son, my daughter is coming home for the Fourth of July, and I thought, well, that’s really great if we’re getting these families coming back to their hometown.”

In the early days, Tavares said, most of the financial backing came from longtime residents. Today, local businesses play an invaluable role. One of the challenges is that most people think of the Fourth of July celebration as being town sponsored.

As he’s gotten older, Tavares – a longtime former Select Board member – says he’s been thinking of stepping down from his lead role. But by the end of the day every July 4th, those thoughts seem to subside.

“It’s tough raising money,” he said, “but I say every year, this is the last year I’m doing it, and then you come back from watching people participate and having fun and dancing on the sidewalks with the kids, and you say, ‘OK, we’ll do another year.’”

For more information about July 4th Plymouth, go here. If you want to help defray the cost of this year’s events, go here.

July 4

As mentioned above, the town’s holiday celebration includes an early 5k road race, the Fourth of July Parade, concerts and food trucks on the waterfront, and a fireworks extravaganza over the harbor. All events are free. For more information on what’s happening, go here.

July Fourth in Plymouth will start with a 5k road race at 7:30 a.m. Credit: (July Fourth Plymouth)

The 9th annual Fourth of July 5K road race starts at 7:30 a.m. at Plymouth Rock. To register for the race, go here.

The Fourth of July Parade starts at 9 a.m. from 10 Cordage Park Circle and will wind its way down Court Street to Main Street and Main Street Extension before turning left onto Water Street and finishing in front of Pilgrim Memorial State Park at the bottom of Coles Hill. Water Street from Union Street to Brewster Street will be closed beginning at 7 a.m. and will remain closed until the conclusion of the fireworks. Parking restrictions will be in place. For more on parking and road restrictions on July 4, go here.

The Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra will perform its traditional Fourth of July concert at 7:30 p.m. at Pilgrim Memorial State Park.

Fireworks! They’re scheduled to start at 9:15, over the harbor, viewing spots are available throughout town including Pilgrim Memorial State Park, Burial Hill, and Nelson Park. Stephens Field will be off limits because the ongoing makeover work going on there.

The current weather forecast for July 4 calls for a cloudy, humid day with the temperatures reaching about 80 degrees. There’s a 30 percent chance of showers in the evening.

For more information about July Fourth events, go here.

July 5

The Spire presents the Americana Theatre Company’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” on select dates from July 5 through July 21 with 11 performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m., and 2 p.m. matinees on Sundays. This classic whodunnit by Agatha Christie follows detective Hercule Poirot as passengers on a train rely on him to identify the murderer before he/she strikes again. It’s to die for. Tickets are $40 and you can get them here.

Sculptor Mason Young will talk about his wood works at the Howland House on July 5.

The Howland House, 33 Sandwich St., hosts Manomet resident and self-taught sculptor Mason Young. He’ll talk about his wooden works and his creative process. Two sessions are scheduled, at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. The event is free.

First Fridays Plymouth returns with about 25 artists, galleries, shops, and showrooms opening their doors for art, culture and inspiration, from 5 to 8 p.m. This month features events at the Plymouth Center for the Arts, 11 North St., including origami artist Andrea Plate and pianist Erik Lindgren. Enjoy light refreshments while viewing the “Volunteers Only” show. For more information, go here.

Priscilla Beach Theatre, 800 Rocky Hill Road, presents Legally Blonde for two weeks, July 5 to July 20. It’s a classic story of a colorful co-ed getting into Harvard and trying to win back her boyfriend. Come dressed in pink, but don’t you dare wear last season’s shoes. Evening and matinee performances are scheduled. For tickets, go here.

July 6

Pilgrim Hall Museum and the Plymouth Antiquarian Society present a Burial Hill Tour entitled “The Trouble with Tribbles”. Dr. Donna Curtin, executive director of Pilgrim Hall Museum, will discuss 19th-century gravestones that were carved by the Tribble shop of Plymouth. Meet at Town Square at the top of the hill at 1 p.m. The event is free. For more information, go here.

July 7

Since 1933, the Plymouth Antiquarian Society has been serving a hearty New England breakfast consisting of fishcakes, baked beans, and cornbread on the lawn of the 1677 Harlow House, 119 Sandwich St. Tour the historic house, learn about colonial crafts or just eat breakfast while being serenaded by strolling singers. Reservations are required by the 5th. Tickets are $15 and you can get them here.

July 10

Chicago Total Access will perform a free concert on the waterfront on July 10.

Wednesday in the park: The Summer Concert Series on the Plymouth waterfront continues with Chicago Total Access, a New England-based Chicago tribute band. This free event is presented by Project Arts of Plymouth. Does anybody really know what time it starts? Yes – at 6:30 p.m. Enjoy the horn-powered music, sample food truck fare, and enjoy the view and summer weather. For more information, go here

Sustainable Plymouth, South Shore & Cape Citizens Climate Lobby, the Plymouth Public Library and the League of Women’s Voters of the Plymouth Area are sponsoring a series of sustainability workshops this summer. They will cover popular government programs designed to help pay for home energy efficiency improvements and how these technologies work. At this session, Energy Efficiency Coordinator Loie Hayes of the Green Energy Consumer Alliance will cover the benefits of heat pumps, how to search out the best set-up for your home and the rebates and tax credits available. This session is free and takes place at the Plymouth Public Library at 132 South St at 7 p.m. For more information, go here.

July 11

The Plymouth Public Library Foundation’s Garden Tour and Fair on July 11 will include time in the library’s seldom seen Shiff Garden.

The Plymouth Public Library Foundation will host its second annual Garden Tour and Fair. The Dr. Richard M. Shiff Garden behind the library on South Street is focus of this fundraising event. Activities include spending time in the Shiff Garden, viewing six spectacular Plymouth gardens, and taking a tour of Plymouth County Sheriff’s aquaponic/hydroponic garden. Several environmental organizations and local garden businesses will also participate. Tickets are $30 or $40 depending on the time of purchase. For more information, go here.

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