This week, Independence Day will not only be celebrated in the night sky, but on the grass, too. Wednesday, Children and adults can venture to Sagamore Hill, the historic home of President Theodore Roosevelt in Cove Neck, where history comes alive every July 4.
"The Fourth of July was always an important holiday for T.R. and his family," says site superintendent Tom Ross. "It's our biggest event of the year."
During his presidency, Roosevelt regularly delivered a Fourth of July speech in downtown Oyster Bay -- it often ended with an open invite for the public to join him at his home for the afternoon. Sagamore Hill has kept up that tradition for the past two decades by holding its annual Independence Day Celebration.
ROUGH RIDERS DEMONSTRATION
Members of the Nassau-Suffolk Horsemen's Association will portray T.R.'s Rough Riders by holding an 1898 Spanish-American War encampment and equestrian demonstration at 1 p.m. The crowd cheers on each rider, mounted on horses, as they charge at heads of cabbage with sabers, as if they were attacking the enemy.
"We encourage the audience to applaud or boo as required on the troops' success or failure," says captain Frank Bradford, 48, of Baldwin. "It's a contest as to who can perform the best."
After the demonstration, guests are welcome to pet the horses and ask the riders questions.
T.R. COMES TO LIFE
To get the full Roosevelt experience, T.R. re-enactor James Foote recites speeches from the porch of the home of the 26th president at 2 p.m. This year there will be a special focus on the centennial of Roosevelt's 1912 Bull Moose campaign.
As the Sagamore Hill Band plays John Phillips Sousa anthems, Foote, decked out in his three-piece period suit, will work the crowd -- shaking hands, answering questions, posing for photos. "I enjoy the big crowds," says Foote, 63, of Sea Cliff. "The more, the merrier."
FOR THE KIDS
Storyteller Jonathan Kruk will present an interactive tale about famous American heroes. There will also be organized old-fashioned games on the lawn such as hoop and stick, egg and spoon plus potato-sack races. A patriotic craft table will invite children to make Teddy masks or their own American flags.
WHILE YOU'RE THERE
Although Roosevelt's house is currently closed for restoration, the onsite Old Orchard Museum is exhibiting T.R. items. "We have portraits of the Roosevelt children as well as a number of taxidermy items that we've installed on the first floor," says Ross. "We brought over glass cases so people can get up close and personal with some of the objects. Now they can get within inches of items that are normally 20 to 30 feet away."
GOOD TO KNOW
Make sure to get there early for prime parking and lawn spots. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets for sitting. Refreshments -- hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn, ice cream and soda -- will be available for purchase.
Last year's celebration drew more than 3,500 -- a record crowd for the event, which site officials say has grown in popularity each summer.
WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, Sagamore Hill Road, Cove Neck
INFO 516-922-4788, nps.gov/sahi