The 49th annual Fitchburg Civic Days are upon us and, as did the past 48 celebrations, the event "serves to tie the community together."
That's how A.J. Tourigny, chief of staff to Fitchburg Mayor Stephen DiNatale, puts it, adding, "Even though the official name is Fitchburg Civic Days, it is more of a North Worcester County event, considering we get people coming in from all over."
One of Fitchburg's oldest and longest traditions, Civic Days celebrates the week of the Fourth of July and unites people from North Central Massachusetts and beyond for a series of fun, family-oriented events. Such events span across generations and have created fond memories for nearly 50 years.
Fitchburg Civic Days began in 1960, when Mayor George Bourque sought to create a celebration not only honoring the birth of the country but also to celebrate Fitchburg, in general. It has become a tax-exempt organization functioning as a committee through the city of Fitchburg, run 100 percent by volunteers, and aims to feature local businesses and cultural organizations.
"We have over 100 vendors participating in this year's celebration," Tourigny says. "There will be lots of food, music, artists and performers from a variety of backgrounds. This really showcases what Fitchburg is all about. We are highly inclusive and celebrate art in all of its forms."
The party unofficially starts Saturday with the 11th annual Nashua River Brewers Festival from 1 to 6 p.m., in Riverfront Park at 51 Commercial St. (See a separate story on Pages 6 and 7.)
And with the exception of that festival, all of the Fitchburg Civic Days events are free for all ages and open to the general public
One of the highlights of Civic Days is the annual 4th of July Parade, described as the largest parade in the area. Participants in this year's parade include the Quahog Diggers, the Fitchburg Police Relief Association and the National Guard.
"We started planning Fitchburg Civic Days in December, as we've done every year," Tourigny says. "It takes about eight months to pull everything off, from deciding what events we will have to the performers. We typically reach out to our sponsors in January, and we couldn't be happier with their help."
Another popular event is the trademark Downtown Block Party on Wednesday, July 3, from 5 to 10 p.m., spanning from Prichard and Main. This casual affair features a wide variety of vendors providing food, activities, musical performances and crafts that's sure to make you feel like a kid again.
Following the Block Party is a magnificent fireworks show sponsored by Pyro Technico at 10 p.m., shot off from Rollstone Hill.
"Last year, we saw over 15,000 people at the Block Party," says Ray Burnette, a member of the Fitchburg Civic Days Planning Committee. "As for the fireworks, you'll be able to see them from all of Main Street, and even from Boulder Highway."
For the complete Civic Days schedule, visit http://ci.fitchburg.ma.us/calendar.aspx?CID=31.