Johnny’s List of Quirky Boston Events: 07/02/07


This is the special July 4th edition. 🙂

Insiders know that state parks and beaches are the last place you want to be on July 4th. Want to do something truly weird and unique? How about taking part in a re-enactment of the 1776 Continental Congress that passed the American Declaration of Independence. 7/4, Quincy,

Joining the mainstream is fine, too, at the Boston Esplanade, 7/4, for the concert and fireworks. The trick to this is to give up on being anywhere close to the stage. Bring a blanket and plenty of liquids, sunblock, and situate yourself far from any pathways… people tend to cut corners and trample you. A portable radio wouldn’t hurt, but the speakers cover the whole esplanade I believe.

Something much more off-track is Independence Day Celebration at Sturbridge Village, the 1850s re-enactment village. July 4,

The New England Summer Nationals is the largest auto event on the East Coast, in Oxford, MA, July 4-8,

You can also catch July 4th parades or fireworks in Chelmsford, Martha’s Vinyard, Fairhaven, Falmouth, Hyannis, Ipswich, Manchester By the Sea, North Adams, Rockport, Williamstown, Plymouth, and more. Can’t get enough? July 3rd is a celebration date in Chelmsford, Gloucester, and Worcester. See

July 4th events I’ve mentioned before: Old Orchard Beach Parade & Sandcastle Sculpture Competition, July 2-4, The Marblehead Summer Festival of Arts, to July 4, Boston Harborfest is Jun 28 – Jul 4,

Here’s a great one. Last year I stopped by Christian Herter Park, which is off Storrow Drive Westbound. In that general area they have a water sprinkler park, a playground, and a kayak / canoe rental place, which I believe is Yes you can go rent canoes and paddle around watching the fireworks!

And now, what to do after July 4th!

Speaking of Christian Herter Park, every year there are outdoor theatre performances at the “Public Theatre”, which is on Storrow Drive in Boston westbound just before the Days Inn. They are featuring “Misalliance”, by George Bernard Shaw, a debate about marriage. Christian Herter Park, July 5 – Sept 9. I went last year and saw Shakespeare and it was wonderful. Take Storrow Drive west, which becomes Soldier’s Field Road. Parking is 500 yards on the right after Harvard athletic fields. Closed when raining. Bring a picnic meal and arrive early for best seating.

The weird event of the week is Firefly. Have you ever heard of the Burning Man Festival? A bunch of artists get together and entertain each other with performances and displays. This is Vermont’s version, smaller, closer, homier. July 5-8, Noon Friday straight through to Noon Monday. Bring your own tent.

Readercon is for people who love written science fiction and fantasy. July 5-8. You have to be pretty geeky, but I’ve been and it’s good if you’re a fan. Burlington Marriott, Burlington, MA. Expensive but attracts top writers.

The weird continues! The largest native american indian event, (they prefer it to be called tribal nations I believe), in New England is the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Annual Pow-wow, July 6-8. I got this factoid from one of the tribal elders personally, and I’ve been to a couple of these and it is well worth the trip. 483 Great Neck Road South, Mashpee, MA, that’s on Cape Cod. 508-477-0208.

Cambridge is having a City Dance Party, July 6, and they are not calling it “for peace” or anything so you know it’ll be good. I went last year and it was surprisingly entertaining! You wouldn’t think that the academic elite would be able to get their groove on, but there’s sort of a Music Man transformation, if you’ve seen that movie. Anyway, go check it out. 795 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA. 617-349-4301.

Another re-enactment! If you are a regular reader you know I have a soft spot for these, because the re-enactors are truly the most passionate people, and I love passionate people. Also it’s the least boring way to catch up on what I didn’t learn about history going to a tech school. Glover’s Regiment is a Revolutionary War re-enactment, a re-enacted military camp from the 1700s, with tents, cooking, craft areas, costumed militia and camp followers. Fort Sewall, Marblehead, MA, 781-631-5967. July 6-8,

Going a little re-enactment crazy, please include Happy Birthday Hawthorne! in your busy schedule. This is July 7th at the Old Manse. What does Manse mean anyway, “Old Mansion?” Webster’s says it just means your house. So basically “This Old House”, 19th century style. That’s at 269 Monument Street in Concord, MA, 12pm-3pm. Re-enactors play the family members of the famous dead author Nathaniel Hawthorne. 978-369-3909.

I am forced to admit that I find a lot of local townie festivals sort of so-so. You know what I mean, the local chamber of commerce encourages all the restaurants to open up a few tables on the sidewalk. They invite some artists and street merchants to come sell stuff, and there’s usually a stage with one live band. It’s not awful, but just not weird or big enough to draw me to visit Bumbleton, CT. This one seems to be different, despite the name. It is the Greater New Bedford Summerfest, July 7-8. Over 20,000 attend, and they have a bunch of apparently top-tier or at least 2nd-tier acts, including Irish singing legend and Grammy Award nominee Maura O’Connell. And they have various workshops, which don’t seem to be participatory, but do give you a chance to interact with the performers in more than just a linear concert format. New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, New Bedford, MA. 508-999-5231.

There’s a charity event called “Life is Good at Fenway” that is sponsored by those folks who make the t-shirts. This also is not the same-old-same-old street vendors thing. As well as the live music and food. They have games, a scavenger hunt, bubble gum blowing contents, a dunk tank, magic shows, seed spitting, the world’s biggest game of catch. Sounds like it’s just as fun to show up and watch the crowd as it is to join in.

On the flip side, I would not go to the Newport Music Festival except as an excuse to visit Newport, which is wonderful as previously mentioned. July 6-22, Newport, RI, 401-849-0700.

Aretha Franklin is coming!! Is she still alive? You bet she is and she’s demanding some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Be prepared to have your butt kicked if you aren’t showing some. That’s July 7, at the South Shore Music Circus, which is not really a circus but rather a theatre.

Finally, under the I Swear I Am Not Making This Up Category, Dr. Sketchy’s Burlesque Life Drawing, July 8. I checked this out on the Web. Apparently, you show up, get some art supplies for sketching, and the models do strange burlesque things and you might learn something about art, too. Great Scott, 1222 Comm Ave, Boston, MA. 2:30pm $7, 18+,

Here is the update on outdoor movie series:

— Movies by Moonlight at Boston Harbor Hotel, 7/6, Vertigo,

— CBS4 Free Friday Flicks @ Hatch Shell, 7/6, Shrek 2 (or 3?),

— City of Somerville, 7/5, Just Like Heaven,

— Dorchester, 7/5, has a day of kite flying and catch-and-release fishing and family activities to kick off their own summer movie series. At sunset, the movie (that’s about 8:30pm), July 5: Night at the Museum.

— Onset, MA, Onset Bay Movie Co, 7/5, Happy Feet, see

Ongoing events I’ve mentioned before: Riverdance, June 20 – July 8. Brockton Country Fair, to Jul 8, Scarecrow of Rumney Marsh, Gloucester July 6-7,

The MFA continues its summer concert series, this week is “Tortoise”, July 5th, combining electronica with jazz. And they even have audio links on the MFA web site, what a neat idea!

Phew. Go do all that and get back to me. 🙂