The festivities start early on Patriots Day as it did on the morning of the birth of our nation on April 19, Lexington in 1775. The day starts at 5:30 am with the ringing of the bell on Belfry Hill to signal the coming of the British. When you think to yourself that this is obscenely early to be out in public at a reenactment on a holiday off from work, think instead that the real ringing of this bell was at 1 or 2 am. That will help you with the next realization that if you arrived at 5:30 you might already be late.
The adjacent town green is the site for the 5:45 re-enactment and is surrounded by a rope to keep the spectators at bay on the sidewalk. If you have a walking disability you will want to show up early for several reasons. Parking is at a premium on the side streets, the front row on the rope goes fast and the crowd fills the sidewalk before the show starts and circumnavigating the green can get difficult.
The closer you are to Buckman Tavern on the East end of the green on Bedford Street, the closer you will be to the action. Eventually the tavern will open and militia men will pour out reminiscent of a clown car. The beat of the drum will soon warn of the coming redcoat army. When the British arrive and surround the militia keep one eye toward the tavern and one on the green to spot the first shot. The tension will build for minutes as the men get close enough to throw bullets at each other before firing them instead. For the blind or deaf if you feel out of place; don’t fret. After a few volleys of shot your ears will be ringing and the green will be smothered with gun smoke.
The crowd has an almost festival type spirit and if you are a fan of American history it has plenty of novelty to offer. If you are not, have no fear there are several pancake breakfasts within close proximity. The Lexington center will be open for business and provides something for everyone but if you want to make an early exit you will be better served by planning your parking ahead. There will be parades and a perpetually late (as deemed by tour guides) Paul Revere coming down Massachusetts Avenue as the day progresses. To plan parking or transportation options to the town center try the Lexington website –
Around Lexington the Historic Society also provides tours of Buckman Tavern, The Hancock-Clarke house and Munroe Tavern. Each provides a different perspective on the day’s events and unique glimpse into the colorful history of Lexington from John Hancock to George Washington. Buckman Tavern is the closest to the reenactment while the Hancock-Clark house is a short walk in the direction of the fleeing militias. Munroe Tavern is just outside the town center (south on Mass. Ave) and displays two floors with a gift shop and newly added elevator. There are a few parking spots on site for what might be the easiest access of the day.
If you want a taste of the reenactment without the crowds, 2013 will be the 300th year anniversary of the founding of Lexington, keep your eyes on the local news for the rehearsal that comes in the weeks before Patriots Day.