Grand Union Flag Raising on Prospect Hill, January 1, 2019

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 on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2018, with a reenactment ceremony for the anniversary of the “Grand Union” flag-raising ceremony at Prospect Hill Park. 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., followed by a ceremony at Prospect Hill Park. 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, and remarks by participants from the Charlestown and Rhode Island Militia, and the Ancient and Honorable Company (first chartered in 1638). His Majesty’s 10th Regiment of Foot, representing the British Army, will bring a message from King George III, and the American Legion Post 19 Honor Guard will lead a military salute as a commemorative flag is raised atop the Prospect Hill Tower. Additionally, special guest speaker Byron DeLear of the North American Vexillological Association will share information from his recently published book about the significance of the Grand Union Flag, noting that: “The mystery of the first American flag’s origins has flummoxed historians for nearly two centuries. This book pieces together its fascinating tale at the beginnings of the American Revolution. The First American Flag explores this important national icon and how the introduction of this galvanizing symbol occurred at a time when the trappings of American nationhood were taking shape — in less than a month’s time, a new navy, a new army, a new flag, and a new name for a nation came into being.”

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 Tower 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, Nency Salamoun, at 617-625-6600 x2323 or

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.