The last two 4th of Julys in Andover have been incredibly quiet as COVID-19 canceled festivities in town. Today marked the return of the small town Americana scenes that have played a central role in our town’s Independence Day Celebrations for the past 80 years. For those who have never experienced Andover on the 4th of July, add it to your bucket list.
For nearly 175 years, Proctor Academy has played a central role in the day to day operations of the Town of Andover. Originally a town academy serving children of all ages, Proctor’s evolution to a boarding school in the 1930s initiated growth in both physical plant and the seasonal population in town. Today, Proctor serves as the town’s largest employer and annually welcomes students from more than 25 states and 13 countries to campus. Just as COIVD-19 has shifted each of our lives, the role Proctor plays within the Town of Andover as it seeks to reopen for the 2020-2021 school year must also shift.
Spending the 4th of July in Andover, New Hampshire should be a prerequisite to understanding the value of small town living. Our little town of 2,000 people bursts at the seams as thousands of visitors flock to the village green in the heart of Proctor’s campus for a flea market and carnival-like atmosphere. At noon, local elementary students who had perfect attendance this year toll the bell in Maxwell Savage Hall to signal the start of the parade. Local fire companies, floats, and bands weave their way through campus along North Street before looping back down Main Street. The day ends as thousands more people gather on Carr Field to watch fireworks over the Proctor Ski Area.
The tiny, quaint town of Andover grows by more than five times its normal population of 2,200 people during its annual 4th of July celebration. For the past 75 years, Andover has served as a gathering place for residents of the entire region as the town green and Proctor’s campus are flooded with flea-market booths, games, food vendors, a parade, and fireworks. It is small town Americana at its finest as we celebrate America’s independence and our individual freedoms granted in the U.S. Constitution.