Declaration, music, art and other (Fort) Nonsense to mark NJ 350 on July 4 in Morristown

Park Ranger Tom Winslow declares independence to a sea of citizens, on Independence Day on the Morristown Green. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Park Ranger Tom Winslow, shown here declaring independence to a sea of citizens in 2013, will have a return engagement on Independence Day 2014 on the Morristown Green. Photo by Kevin Coughlin


Morristown is becoming the place to be for July Fourth celebrations–and why not?  We have more than our share of Revolutionary War history within an easy gallop of the Green.

This year has the bonus of being New Jersey’s 350th anniversary, and the state historical commission has designated Independence Day in Morristown as its official “Liberty” event,  according to Leslie Bensley, executive director of the Morris County Tourism Bureau.

'INCOMING AT 2 O'CLOCK!' Mike Brown lets go with all the Colonial firepower he can muster, on July 4, 2013. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

‘INCOMING AT 2 O’CLOCK!’ Mike Brown lets go with all the Colonial firepower he can muster, on July 4, 2013. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

The festivities actually start on Thursday, July 3, 2014, with a reception for Bringing the War of Independence to Life: 19th Century Illustrations of the American Revolution, an exhibition at the Washington’s Headquarters Museum.  The reception runs from 5 pm to 7 pm and the public is invited.

On Friday, July 4, the focus shifts to the historic Morristown Green, where the Morris Music Men and Wire Harp will warm up the crowd, with help from National Park Service Ranger Eric Olsen, at 11 am. Then, Park Ranger Tom Winslow will read the Declaration of Independence with fiery fervor, followed by a musket salute and pealing church bells.

The Presbyterian Church in Morristown–where George Washington prayed–will offer free tours.

At 2 pm, Fort Nonsense–a Revolutionary War lookout site–will hold a ribbon-cutting to celebrate a cleanup and renovations in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  The improvements were made possible by a Fort Nonsense endowment fund managed by the Washington Association of New Jersey, private partner of the Morristown National Historical Park.

Here are full details from the Tourism Bureau:

Declaration of Independence to be read during NJ’s 350th Anniversary Year

The Morris County Tourism Bureau, in conjunction with Morristown National Historical Park and its many partners, will host the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence on Friday, July 4th on the historic Morristown Green while celebrating the New Jersey’s 350th anniversary (1664-2014).

This occasion has been selected by the New Jersey Historical Commission as its official LIBERTY event and will feature a special proclamation read by Freeholder Director Thomas Mastrangelo, as part of a year-long series of activities held throughout the state.

rev times 2014 logoThe festivities on the Morristown Green will begin at 11:00 a.m. with patriotic music provided by the Morris Music Men and Wire Harp, along with audience warm-up activities led by the NPS ranger Eric Olsen.

Following the Proclamation, the Declaration of Independence will be read with great passion by NPS ranger Tom Winslow, followed by the tolling of the bells and a musket salute.

Free tours of the Presbyterian Church will be available after the reading. General George Washington visited the church in 1777 and the site boasts many connections to Morristown’s colonial past. This event will highlight the critical role that the Morristown area played in the Revolutionary War.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. at Fort Nonsense, part of the Morristown National Historical Park, which recently underwent a significant 2014 renovation to improve the overall visitor experience to the former fort and look-out.

The rehabilitation of the site includes clean-up of the tree debris; new road guide and entrance sign which will aid visitors in finding the site, as well as the replacement of worn and damaged interpretive signs explaining the history of the fort and its strategic importance.  In addition, new benches, picnic tables, and animal-proof trash cans have been installed for the use and comfort of visitors.  

All of the improvements for Fort Nonsense were purchased through a Fort Nonsense endowment fund that is managed by Morristown NHP’s private partner, the Washington Association of New Jersey.

Additionally, on Thursday, July 3, 2014, an opening reception for the exhibit Bringing the War of Independence to Life: 19th Century Illustrations of the American Revolution will be held in the Washington’s Headquarters Museum from 5 to 7 pm.

“We are pleased to be able to tell the story of the war through these fascinating illustrations, and through a partnership that allows us to emphasize the Revolutionary War connections between two national parks in Valley Forge and Morristown, and between two National Heritage Areas: the Schuylkill River Heritage Area and Crossroads of the American Revolution,” said curator Kurt Zwikl. The public is welcome to the reception.

MCTB’s partners and sponsors include: Washington Association of New Jersey, North Jersey American Revolutionary Round Table, Daughters of the American Revolution-Morristown Chapter/Schuyler-Hamilton House, Crossroads of the America Revolution Heritage Area,Morristown National Historical Park, Morris Arts, Presbyterian Church, Morris County Heritage Commission, Shakespeare Theatre of NJ, Provident Bank Foundation, RevHealth, TransOptions and Robert Lloyd Coutts & Sons.

For more information, including inclement weather arrangements, please visit


The Morris County Tourism Bureau is a Destination Marketing Organization that positively affects the economy of Morris County by promoting the area’s exceptional historic, cultural and recreational opportunities by providing services to residents, business travelers and tourists.


Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2014

Speak Your Mind