On April 19, 1775, more than 5,000 American militia and British troops engaged in the first battles of the American Revolution. Hostilities began in Lexington around 5 a.m., moved to Concord three hours later and continued back the 12-mile stretch to Lexington and into Boston as Minute Men harried the Redcoats out of town.
Many, many times that number of people are expected to visit Concord 250 years later on April 19, 2025, celebrating the start of the American Revolution by taking part in activities in town.
Concord is getting ready. The nine-member Concord 2025 Executive Committee is working with 14 subcommittees and almost 100 volunteers to prepare for the weekend.
It’s going to be an even bigger celebration than in 1975. “So much more is going on,” said Finance Executive Committee member Rick Loughlin, who served as parade division marshal in the 1975 parade.
The 1975 parade, with 3,600 participants, was the big focus, the Vietnam veteran said. This time, the committee plans as many as 25 events leading up to the parade and smaller events to follow.
The committee wants to get the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall, said Henry Dane, chair of both the Select Board and the Executive Committee. April 30, 2025, will mark the Fall of Saigon and the evacuation of U.S. forces from Vietnam.
Public safety is a big part of the planning for 2025. Dane credited Frederick Ryan, another executive committee member and the retired police chief of Arlington, with coordinating with surrounding towns, fire and police departments.
Despite careful planning, things can go in unexpected ways.
A dog, presumably named Liberty, made a podium appearance before the Secret Service wrangled him offstage in 1975. The event was captured by a photographer and remains on two frames of a contact sheet at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.
Vietnam War protesters, 20,000 of them, according to the New York Times, jeered Ford at the Old North Bridge while the Coast Guard patrolled the Concord River. A film provided by the Ford Presidential Library for review shows a dog helping to bring down a protester following the president’s remarks.
For 2025, historians are putting the events at the Old North Bridge into context with other events, like the Tea Party, that led to the Revolution, Dane said.
Parking and transportation into town is under discussion.
Minute Man National Park has been an eager participant in the planning, Dane said, as has the National Guard Armory.
The years leading up to the celebrations present challenges. In 1975, the Minute Man Statue was removed for two months, returning in March, to make a mold to be able to recreate it if it were damaged.. Over a year earlier, the National Park Service found a pipe bomb at its base which was removed before it detonated, the Boston Globe reported.
While the event will bring tourists and their dollars into town, the weekend will be extremely expensive, Dane said: “Things cost a lot more than they did 50 years ago.”
The 250th committee is committed to holding events on the actual anniversaries — a challenge in 2025, because Patriots Day coincides with Easter weekend and the Boston Marathon, Loughlin said. Although Patriots Day will be Saturday, Easter on Sunday and the Boston Marathon on Monday, the entire weekend will be long for public safety personnel.
The Select Board chair expects to see another request for money at the next Town Meeting. He is also hopeful that Massachusetts legislators will come up with funding.
A fundraising campaign is in the works, Loughlin said.
When crowds come to town, volunteers will be needed, Dane said. Local ambassadors will have to be on hand to guide visitors and control access to the town.