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On a Shoestring: Calvin Coolidge Day, the other 4th of July

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on a shoestring header
Online editor’s note: This summer, we’ll be bringing you occasional suggestions for free (or almost free) outings in and around Addison County on our new staff blog. Check back periodically for more tips and tricks for enjoying the county on a shoestring budget.

Calvin Coolidge Day


by Tamara Hilmes, Intern
With the Fourth of July coming up, it would seem only appropriate to list off a bunch of patriotic, star-spangled events and activities around Addison County that are easy on the billfold, but well, that seems a bit too easy. A bit too expected, if you know what I mean. Not to mention, Addison Independent reporter Chelsey Pletts is already on the ball, and a full run-down of Fourth of July events around the county will appear in Thursday's print edition of the paper. Grab the Thursday paper soon to read up on parades, fireworks, and the like, if that's your bag. But if you, like me, can only stomach so much apple pie before feeling nauseous, take a moment to explore the other options that the Fourth of the July weekend has to offer, one in particular being the President Calvin Coolidge Fourth of July Celebration at the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site in Plymouth, Vt.

Few people know that Cal's birthday is July 4--making him the one and only U.S. President to share his nation's birthday-- and perhaps even fewer realize that he was born right here in Vermont; and by right here, I mean Plymouth Notch, about an hour and 15 minutes South and a little bit East of Middlebury. Each year, the little historical village, which was once one of Vermont's premier tourist attractions (way before Ben and Jerry's came to town and stole the show...), hosts an Independence Day event in commemoration of the President and native Vermonter.

This year, the celebration will be four-fold:

1. The celebration will commence at noon with a march from the village green to the cemetery where the former president is buried.

2. Following the march, there will be a Chicken BBQ at the on-site Wilder House Restaurant.

3. At 2:00 p.m., the Okemo Young Artist Program concert will commence.

4. Closing the celebration will be the annual parade, co-sponsored by the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation and the Vermont National Guard.

In addition, visitors can tour the homestead of President Coolidge, where he not only grew up, but also where he was sworn in. President Harding died while then Vice President Coolidge was visiting the family home in Plymouth. In the middle of the night, his father woke him up, and swore him in as President of the United States. In addition to the family home, take a look around at the surrounding buildings, such as the old schoolhouse, and the Plymouth Cheese Factory, which shut down at the end of May (ending the cheese-curd production tradition that began in 1890), due to lease battles between the owner and the state.

If the drive to Plymouth is a bit out of your way, or if you've already registered for the confounded pie-eating contest in Brandon, well, have no fear. There are still several ways in which you can honor Calvin Coolidge, who led our great nation throughout the Roaring 20s:

Pretend you are actually living in the 20s.

1. Dress up in pastel colored suits with vests, wide-brimmed straw hats, loose-fitting shift dresses and bow-bedecked, bell-shaped bonnets

2. Be sure to bust out the lawn games. What better way to spend a Fourth of July afternoon than swinging the croquet mallet and sipping on iced tea and lemonade?

3. Use 20s lingo: you're a sap for sure if you don't think it's the cat's pajamas.

And after the fireworks...

Turn on the DVD player and watch your favorite 20s-inspired flicks. And if I may suggest two that I'm absolutely goofy over, The Great Gatsby and Thoroughly Modern Millie are both the bees knees. They should be available at your local video rental store (Waterfront Video in Middlebury has the two of them, and at $3.50 for a three-day rental, it's a steal of a Saturday night activity. Just make sure you get there before I do...).

So you see, you don't have to rely on the typical parade, bbq, fireworks line-up if that's not your scene. Instead, join me in choosing to celebrate what I'm sure will become an annual tradition, the Real McCoy---Calvin Coolidge day is sure to catch on. And, as always, in true "On a Shoestring" style, your Calvin Coolidge Fourth of July Extravaganza doesn't have to be swanky, and you don't have to be puttin' on the Ritz to have a swell time.

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