Tag Archives: events

The Fourth in Salem: Horribles and Hawthorne

Actually, I’m not in Salem for this holiday weekend; I’m in southern Maine with my family.  But I’m very aware of what is going on (down) there, as July 4th is a day not only for commemorating the birth of the United States, but also of Salem’s own Nathaniel Hawthorne.  The day begins with two very different traditions:  a public reading of the Declaration of Independence on the Common and the Horribles parade in Salem Willows.  I’m sure that the reading will be very reverent (as well as relevant) and the parade will be very irreverent (but also relevant).  Horribles parades, which happen up and down the North Shore and I think in other areas of New England as well, feature often rather racy costumes, makeshift bands and floats, all adding up to political and social mockery.  I am sure that the reading of the Declaration on the Common, at about the same time, will be a more solemn occasion, but probably not as much fun.

a 1776 Declaration printed by Ezekiel Russell in Salem about July 15 or 16.

To mark Nathaniel’s birthday, the House of the Seven Gables will host a marathon reading of their namesake book, all day long from 9:30 to 6 pm.  Besides the House of the Seven Gables (the house, not the book, formally known as the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion) the Gables campus features a beautiful colonial garden and Hawthorne’s birthplace, moved from nearby Union Street in 1958.

a print of the dashing portrait of Hawthorne by George Osgood, 1840. The original painting is in the Peabody Essex Museum

Hawthorne's birthplace in its original location, HABS, Library of Congress

And of course fireworks at the end of the day, preceded by a concert on Derby Wharf.  Happy Fourth to everyone, everywhere.