The countdown to the 250th birthday of the American Revolution has begun in earnest after a commission charged with planning and staging the anniversary celebrations secured funds for statewide and local events.
The Massachusetts Commission on the 250th Anniversary of the American Revolution, signed into law by then-Governor Charlie Baker in 2021, has received $1 million from an amendment that was included in the state’s newly approved budget for fiscal year 2024.
Lexington’s semiquincentennial commission, Lex250, is earmarked to receive $200,000 to commemorate the Battle of Lexington and other historical events related to the founding of the U.S. Officials are hopeful that offerings from the private sector will inch up the town’s allotted funding for celebrations.
“With this first major round of funding, we can get serious about telling our story to the nation and the world,” State Senator Mike Barrett, chair of the finance subcommittee on the commission and a pivotal figure in encouraging the funds, said in a statement.
The state’s celebrations, to take place in 2025, will be a major part of national commemorations marking the founding of the country. The U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, also known as America250, was established by Congress in 2016. Massachusetts is one of 38 states that is partnering with America250 to orchestrate celebrations.
Lexington is anticipated to be a “key player,” a spokesperson for Sen. Barrett’s office told the LexObserver, attracting an influx of tourists locally and statewide because of the town’s historical importance.
The Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, and the famed “shot heard round the world,” marked the start of the American Revolution. In 1875, President Ulysses S. Grant visited the area to commemorate the 100th anniversary. In 1975, President Gerald Ford came for the bicentennial of the Revolution, where he delivered a major address at Lexington and Concord.
Lexington was one of few towns that received $200,000 for the celebrations in the state conference committee budget. The exact use of the funds has been left “intentionally broad,” according to the spokesperson. But the language used in last November’s economic development plans, provided by the spokesperson, shows that Lexington intends to use the money for events like local festivals, parades, farmers markets, musical and theatrical performances.
Lex250, whose commission includes 15 members and is overseen by chair Suzanne Barry, is responsible for coordinating the town-wide activities for the 250th-anniversary celebrations.
Barry told the LexObserver that planning for the anniversary is underway, and the commission is actively working towards making the celebrations widely inclusive for everyone. Lexington is drafting preparations for the celebration unitedly with Concord, Lincoln and Arlington. A lineup of various events is planned for Patriot’s Day weekend in 2025, and a summer 2024 kickoff for the next year’s celebrations is in the works, but the exact framework of the events has yet to be finalized, Barry said.
Lex250 has also engaged with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) on creating a permanent memorial for the 250th anniversary. MAPC is continuing to assist Lexington with the arranging a site location and a call for artists to work on the memorial.
“We want to convey the message the Revolution did start here,” the spokesperson for Sen. Barrett said. “Even though this is a nationwide celebration, it started in Massachusetts.”