This year marks a milestone birthday for a South County town. The land now known as South Kingstown formed over 10,000 years ago when glaciers receded from the region, where indigenous communities dwelled for thousands of years among the salt ponds and flat coastal plains still present today. In 1658, Roger Williams and Narragansett sachems signed the Pettaquamscutt Purchase, and 300 years ago, in 1723, the township of Kingstown was divided into North and South.
“South Kingstown’s 300th Anniversary is similar to other milestone birthdays and anniversaries. It’s a time to pause and reflect on the past and highlight the beginnings, good times, and special occasions along the way,” says Joanne Esposito, chair of the SK 300th Anniversary Steering Committee. “We’ve done just that – we highlighted the town’s rich history and planned a year-long celebration with so many commemorative projects and festivities to bring the community together.”
For example, a year-long speaker series has featured topics ranging from cultural and archeological talks about Narragansett life to historic deep-dives into town buildings and monuments. This month brings the community together for the South Kingstown 300th Anniversary Parade, sponsored by University of Rhode Island. Marching bands, students and school communities, floats from businesses and organizations, fire and police personnel, and elected officials will make up the procession. The public is invited to a post-parade picnic at Saugatucket Veterans Park with food trucks, beer and wine, and live entertainment.
In September, a 14-foot sculpture, by local artist Peter Diepenbrock, of a rabbit symbolizing rebirth and renewal will be placed on the Peace Dale village green, honoring South Kingstown’s history and those who were on the land long before it became a town. “When we look back on 2023,” says Esposito, “I hope we will all remember the people and places in South Kingstown that make our lives special.” The parade steps off at 10am on June 17 at South Kingstown High School and travels 1.3 miles to Town Hall. Visit SouthKingstownRI.com/1087/300th-Anniversary for more programming
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