241st Grand Union Flag Raising on Prospect Hill, January 1, 2017

Annual celebration of America’s first flag raising to be celebrated by City and State officials, residents, and “George Washington” on horseback.


SOMERVILLE – In its annual tradition, the City of Somerville will kick off the New Year (and Somerville’s 175th Birthday celebrations) on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, with a reenactment ceremony for the 241st anniversary of the “Grand Union” flag-raising ceremony at Prospect Hill Park. The ceremony begins at Prospect Hill at noon, however a processional led by a re-enactor portraying General George Washington on horseback will leave from the City Hall Concourse at 11:30 a.m. As always, members of the public are invited to participate, and are encouraged to wear traditional colonial clothing. The annual ceremony commemorates the raising of the nation’s first official flag, featuring thirteen red and white horizontal stripes, atop Prospect Hill on New Year’s Day, 1776. At the time, Prospect Hill was a key site in a string of fortifications created by Washington and the Continental Army in their siege of British troops in Boston during the first year of the American Revolution. 


The afternoon’s program will include songs, readings, and participants from local militia, and the Ancient and Honorable Company (first chartered in 1638, as well as His Majesty’s 10th Regiment of Foot, who will be representing the British Army and will be bringing a message from King George III. Brigadier General Richard Johnson for Massachusetts, and the American Legion Post 19 Honor Guard will lead a military salute as a commemorative flag is raised atop the Prospect Hill Tower. Finally, in honor of the kickoff of the City’s 175th Birthday year, Byron DeLear of the North American Vexillological Association will share his newest findings about the significance of the Grand Union Flag and its connection to the name of our nation. 


Light refreshments will be served, and miniature replicas of the Grand Union Flag, both as a flag and a lapel pin, as well as colonial-era tri corner hats and a few items highlighting the City’s historic assets will be available for purchase. The recently stabilized Tower through Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds will also be open to the public following the ceremony.


Individuals with disabilities who need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication, written materials in alternative formats, or reasonable modifications in policies and procedures, in order to access the programs and activities of the City of Somerville or to attend meetings, should contact the City’s ADA Coordinator, Betsy Allen, at 617-625-6600 x2323 or BAllen@somervillema.gov.


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