WILLIAMSTOWN -- Residents of Northern Berkshire will be able to celebrate Independence Day with a parade, a traditional barbecue, readings of the country's founding documents, and a fireworks display on Thursday.
The annual Williamstown Fourth of July Parade will kick-off at 11 a.m., starting at Southworth Street and following Main Street (Route 2) to Spring Street.
"We have the whole spectrum of community groups walking," Williamstown Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Civello said Tuesday.
The parade will feature about 30 groups, she said, including the North Adams SteepleCats, the Williamstown Youth Center, the Williamstown Community Chest, the town's police and fire departments, and Village Ambulance Service.
The annual free barbecue will be held at the base of Spring Street following the parade, Civello said. The barbecue is funded by Williamstown Savings Bank, the town of Williamstown, and Stop & Shop.
"We have about 1,600 hot dogs we'll be grilling that afternoon," she said. Cookies, watermelon and bottled water will be provided by Williams College dining service, she added.
Local band Flatbed Jazz will play outside Tunnel City Coffee at 100 Spring St., Civello said.
At 2 p.m., the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) and the Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) will host readings of two documents tied to the founding of the United States.
The Declaration of Independence and the British reply will be read at WCMA by WTF actors Robert Sean Leonard (Dead Poets Society), Paxton Whitehead (The Importance of Being Earnest), and Heather Lind (HBO's "Boardwalk Empire"). The three actors are featured in the WTF production of George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion," directed by Nicholas Martin.
Williams College's collection of documents related to the country's founding -- including rare copies of the Constitution, the Articles of Confederation and the Bill of Rights -- will be on view from 1 to 4 p.m., on Thursday.
Robert Volz, custodian of the Chapin Library, said the college's copy of the Declaration of Independence is one of only 27 original copies in the world.
"Ours is one of the four absolutely complete copies, without so much as a letter missing," he added.
The document, purchased at an auction by alumni in 1983, is also the only one that belonged to someone who voted for independence. It originally belonged to Joseph Hewes, Volz said, who represented North Carolina in the Continental Congress.
Festivities will continue at night, Civello said, when attendees are encouraged to root for the North Adams SteepleCats, who will be playing against the Sanford Mainers. The game starts at 6:30 p.m. at Joe Wolfe Stadium, on State Street in North Adams, she said, and will be followed by a fireworks display.
Hometown Fourth of July Parade and Celebration
What: Williamstown's annual parade with barbecue and reading of founding documents
Where: Parade starts at Southworth Street, follows Main Street to Spring Street; barbecue at bottom of Spring Street; reading at WCMA
When: Parade starts at 11 a.m., Thursday, July 4; Reading at 2 p.m.
Cost: Free More information: www.williamstownchamber.com
North Adams SteepleCats vs. Sanford Mainers
What: New England Collegiate Baseball League game, followed by a fireworks display
Where: Joe Wolfe Stadium, 200 State St., North Adams
When: 6:30 p.m., Thursday, July 4