BENNINGTON -- Throughout Bennington this weekend, residents and visitors -- some in historically accurate garb -- celebrated the 237th anniversary of the Battle of Bennington, and the 50th annual Bennington Battle Day Parade.
On Saturday, the official holiday, the Bennington Battle Monument offered free admission and hosted a re-enactment of life in a Revolutionary War camp. Demonstrations of cannon and musket firings were performed throughout the day, including at 9:30 a.m. to kick off the Bennington Battle Day 5K, which benefitted the Friends of the Bennington Battle Monument. The day came to a close the same way it ended -- loudly -- with fireworks shot off from Willow Park.
Sunday's parade, led by Grand Marshal Rick Knapp, a former Bennington fire chief and current volunteer who has organized the parade for 17 years, saw several notables attend, including Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott and Smokey the Bear. Scott gave a speech in which he talked about the history of the parade and thanked all of the firefighters in attendance for their service. Bennington state representative Mary Morrissey also spoke, saying, "I'd like to take this opportunity to thank our awesome volunteer fire department."
The fire departments were indeed the highlight of the parade, with at least 17 departments from three states participating. The departments present included Bennington Village; Bennington Rural; Shaftsbury; Rutland; Adams, Ma.; Pownal; North Bennington; East Pownal; Hoosick, N.Y.; Arlington; White Creek, N.Y.; Manchester; Dorset; Cambridge, N.Y.; Philmont, N.Y.; North Hoosick, N.Y.; and Hoosick Falls, N.Y.
The parade was emcee'd from the Four Corners by Magic 590am DJ Ben Patten, who, after the speeches were completed, joked, "We've only got the road blocked off until 3! Fire up the band, let's get this parade going!" At his cue the Mount Anthony Union High School Band began to play "God Bless America," and the parade began in earnest.
The Alerts won four trophies in the parade, most of any entered unit despite fighting a structure fire at 2:30 AM the same day as the parade.