Quincy’s annual Flag Day celebration will be back Saturday, with a full slate of festivities.
The historic mile-long parade, in its 70th year, will follow the traditional route from Quincy Square to Adams Field, and include about 10 bands, several floats, color guards, antique cars, and 2,000 youths waving flags.
But this year, the flag-raising ceremony at Pageant Field has been canceled and the fireworks have been moved to Quincy Bay instead, officials said.
Mayor Thomas Koch said the city was unsure if pandemic restrictions would change when it booked the event a few months ago. The larger space at the bay allows for greater social distancing and for more people throughout the city to enjoy the fireworks, he said.
For Koch, the day is an emotional one since the tradition was started by his father, the late Richard Koch.
“I remember him speaking at the event, and he’d tell the kids, ‘You know that flag in your hand is just as important as the flag flying over the Capitol,’” he said. “It’s evolved, but the focus is still the young kids.”
Koch hopes that message will carry this year and down through the generations. He said those children are in their late-70s now, and many still bring their grandchildren to participate.
“It’s a reminder that this brings us together, that symbol,” he said. “It’s a great day to honor the flag because at the end of the day we’re honoring ourselves as a nation.”
For those who are fully vaccinated, masks will not be required for the 7 p.m. parade, and for the fireworks display, Koch said. Starting at 9 p.m., spectators can watch the show from the shores of Squantum, Wollaston Beach, Houghs Neck, and Merrymount.
Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Flag Day Committee to plan a drive-through event in place of the parade. Two ladder trucks raised a giant American flag while residents drove under it in decorated vehicles, and a DJ played patriotic music, Koch said.
In a typical year, well over 5,000 people watch the parade and even more join for the fireworks display. Koch said he expects to see those numbers grow, with the event coming as the city heads into summer.
“The parade will be robust, and I think people watching the fireworks all around the city is going to be huge. It’s been a long time for people to be able to enjoy things like this,” Koch said. “It’s kind of the official start of Quincy’s summer.”
Christine Mui can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.