Germantown 4th of July: Family fun without the crowds

This Fourth of July, Germantown residents will have the option to keep the celebration local, bypassing the city celebration for festivities that are slightly less hectic.

Seven years ago, Historic Germantown organized Independence Day events that took place at the Johnson House, Concord School, Upper Burying Ground and Cliveden. Last year, these sites were expanded to include Stenton and Hood Cemetery.

“It’s a chance for those in the northwest to attend a relaxed event,” said Carolyn Faris, program coordinator for Historic Germantown, “it’s not the downtown scene, which is fantastic, it’s something a little more low key.”

It will also not be as crowded, according to Barbara Hogue, executive director of Historic Germantown. This year, the organization wanted to make it easier to get around so activities are structured so that attendees do not have to go back and forth along Germantown Avenue.

For those who would like to get out and experience the history of the area, Cliveden and Hood Cemetary will both be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for historical tours.

Cliveden, home to seven generations of the famous Germantown Chew Family and site of the 1777 Battle of Germantown, will also be the site of an historic presentation on the life of Richard Allen.

New to the festivities this year, these presentations will take place at 1 p.m. in the servant quarters at Cliveden and then at the Johnson House, an Underground Railroad station, at 2:30 p.m.

Allen, who will be played by Leonard Dozier, was a slave of the Chew family and, after buying his freedom, he went on to help many escaped slaves as part of the Underground Railroad.

According to John Pollack, president of the Concord School, these performances will provide an opportunity for visitors to learn about history that may not have been in their history books.

At the Concord School, people will gather on the burial ground at 2 p.m. to hear the bell ring once for every year since 1776. The bell was made in 1817 and was added the following year to the 1775 building, which was originally a one-story building.

Pollack describes the event as a place that will allow people a chance to listen, reflect and meet neighbors. And since it’s not an all-day celebration, he said, there’s still time for barbecue.

If you’re looking for a more hands-on historical experience, the Old Fashioned July 4th Picnic Celebration will be taking place from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m at the Stenton Museum. Visitors will be able to make their own ice cream and craft their own flags and are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds.

Other local events:

If you’re looking for something different and are willing to travel a bit, here are some other things to do near Germantown.

Look for a string of parades popping up in the area – the “Christmas in July & Easter” parade in Manayunk at 9 a.m., the Whitemarsh Township parade at 9 a.m., Plymouth Township’s parade at 9:30 a.m., South Ardmore’s bike, stroller and wagon parade at 10 a.m. and the Garrett Hill parade at 10:45 a.m.  How about making a whole morning of it and hitting them all?


Additional reporting by Annie Bydlon

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