Small Town Fourth

I live in a small community about thirty miles west of Boston. Being so close to the city and hard by much larger towns, it would be easy for us to lose our identity, but we have some hard-working volunteers and a deep sense of place, and that is reaffirmed at our celebration called Old Home Day. One of my friends has lived in Carlisle for more than forty years, and she has volunteered at this event every single year. Old Home Day is usually held the weekend before Independence Day, and it looks and feels like a July Fourth Celebration, but we keep it small and centered.

The day starts out with a free pancake breakfast and a road race (which is open to creaking parents and small children, though it’s usually some teenager who blazes through with a fast time.) Then people gather at the town common to watch the parade.



Horses lead it off. (I don’t bring Tonka – he hasn’t yet been trained to be a parade horse. Maybe in the future!)

horse parade


Much of the parade is filled with a ragtag of children.

children in parade


No banners with causes, or politicians, are allowed. But, we do love our caped crusaders.

caped child


Minute Men march.



The fire department tosses candy from its trucks.



There are “floats” like this tractor from Clark Farm.



Instead of candy, they handed out strawberries!



Clark Farm also showed off its goats. Recognize the truck? It’s in Tillie Lays An Egg



The highlight of this year’s parade was a new entry – the Garden Club put together a drill team! They performed in front of the judges stand.

garden club drill team


Some years we have a marching band, This year’s group didn’t exactly go in for precision and uniforms – and we like it like that. The drummer is in a well-known rock band. His friends, all professionals, mostly jazz artists, came out to march. Well, maybe not exactly “march.” But, what music!



There are also booths with things for sale, like cotton candy and trail maps of the town’s conservation land. The Boy Scouts sell burgers. There’s an art show. Awards are announced for honors like Conservationist of the Year. There is a cake decorating contest.



The cakes are then carried over to the town hall, where in the evening there’s a Firemen’s BBQ and a Cake Walk. For 25¢ you can try to win one of the cakes in a game rather like musical chairs.



The fun of the cake walk is that even if you don’t win, probably someone you know has, and they share. That takes a lot of cakes, but we have them! This year more than 70 cakes were donated. I brought these cupcakes.



Today we were invited to watch the fireworks in Boston. But, I’d rather stay home, away from the crowds. I’ve already had a perfect Fourth.

Happy Independence Day!



  1. Happy Independence Day! Today will be food and crafts and music in a small town near us. They shut down part of Main Street for the day. Then tonight will be fireworks to watch and a few ‘leetle’ ones in the front yard! Enjoy your quiet??? I don’t know how it is for you, but we’ve had private ‘Fourth of July’s somewhere near me almost every night for a week!

  2. What an awesome little town you live in Terry. I love the caped crusader picture! Happy 4th to you and your family.

  3. The tiny town where my parents lived had impromptu parades on special days. They are such fun for everyone.

    We’re staying inside and relaxing. I say if you’ve seen one good fireworks show, you’ve seen them all…

  4. Several years ago on July 4th we were on the road on one of our trips to visit the 48 states. We pulled into a small town, don’t remember the name, and we followed the road signs to get on through. We found ourselves driving down the main street with people lined up on both sides. Everyone started waving at us and we waved back. We thought, what friendly people. Then my husband looked in the rear view mirror. Coming up behind us was a parade! I think our faces were a little red but we continued to wave and head on down the road. It remains one of our favorite July 4ths!

    Happy Fourth of July, Terry. Thanks for making us so welcome in your life.

  5. Good old American fun! When I was young I had a Tennessee Walker…and boy, did she love to be in a parade! Tonka will be a beautiful addition to your towns parade…..maybe next year….thanks for sharing the fun!

  6. Memories!!! Memories!!! Oh, how I miss Old Home Day. My neighborhood here in NC has a pedestrian parade on the 4th led by a fire truck (with all its lights, sirens, etc. going) that comes right down my street. They had a pretty good turnout this year. Sometimes I bake some kind of goody for the firemen! Not this year. Still recuperating from my broken thumb.
    By the way, did you ever get a report on Lily’s DNA?

    • Hi Carolyn: I live in North Carolina in a small town called Spring Hope. We just moved to out in the country with nothing but farming around us. Where is your town located?

      • As you may have surmised from what I wrote (Terry knows all about my homesickness) I lived in her town, Carlisle, MA, for many years. I moved to NC in 1996 and settled in Durham. I’m not particularly enthralled with NC. Do you have roadside farm stands where they sell their own produce? We have a farmer’s market but it just seems to be a more expensive version of grocery store mass produced, often out of season, veggies. I’ll have to look up Spring Hope.

        • Carolyn: I know it may be a trip but there is the State’s Farmers Market located at 1201 Agriculture St, Raleigh, NC 27603
          Cross Streets: Near the intersection of Agriculture St and Farmer’s Market Rd
          Neighborhoods: Southwest Raleigh

          It is a great place and is certainly worth the trip. You will find local vegetables, plants and baked goods.

          Also, I see where there is a local farmers Market in Durham. Here is the url for their website But I am sure you have been there. I worked in Durham for about four years even though I lived in Wake County. With UNC and Duke around it is a bit different. Chapel Hill is a great place and maybe you might be able to find more local markets there.

          We do have local farmer’s markets around. I live in Franklin County and it is very agricultural.

          I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and miss my home state and the mountains. My husband is from Canada and lived in Boston for 14 years and really misses that part of the country.

  7. Terry, I just love your small town. Thanks for sharing your 4th of July with us. We are spending our 4th at home and we’ll be watching the neighborhood fireworks. Our cats will be under the bed….poor babies hate fireworks!

  8. We just moved out to the country. Our neighbors down the road have a cookout and fireworks every year. We got a call to come and enjoy the food and fireworks. It was Southern Hospitality at its best.

  9. My hometown had Old Home Days when I was growing up, but it was in late July. It’s so cool your town works to preserve theirs. And I am glad to see riders in western saddles ALL wearing approved hard hats!!

  10. Wow it looks like a great place to live. I love the cupcakes him!