By Times Staff
Gloucester Daily Times
---- — Marching bands, a bonfire and a successful landing by skydivers in Manchester were all part of Cape Ann’s Fourth of July celebration Thursday, capping a 36-hour tribute to America’s birthday that began with Gloucester’s Fishtown Horribles Parade and gala Gloucester fireworks display that lit up the skies over the city’s harbor Wednesday night.
The towns of Rockport and Manchester both hosted their parades and other celebrations Thursday, on the Fourth, and both included some special touches.
In Rockport, the annual Fourth of July Parade, as always, featured the Rockport Firemen’s Band. And it was led for the last time last night by retired Rockport Public schools music director George Ramsden, who donned his familiar fire engine red nightshirt and picked up his plunger baton and “horn” for the 50th consecutive year.
The parade, which began at the Rockport School complex, also followed a ceremonial morning reading of the Declaration of Independence in Dock Square. And the march concluded at Back Beach with another milestone – a concert by the Rockport Legion Band, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary and kicked off its new season with a performance before the lighting of the town’s traditional Back Beach bonfire.
Manchester, meanwhile, got the jump on the July 4 festivities Thursday morning with its parade, which featured visiting bands, militia units and other marchers ranging from the Worcester Brass Band and Boston Windjammers, to the New Jersey-based Patriot Brass Ensemble and Bayonne Bridgemen Drum and Bugle Corps.
That parade and its 16 marching units culminated at the town’s Coach Ed Field Playground, a concert by the Patriot Brass Ensemble — and the field landing of skydivers from the Pepperell-based Air Adventures Skydiving Team.