The fireworks were louder and more spectacular, the parade longer and the smiles larger than ever before in Cambridge as the city celebrated its 350th birthday this weekend.
A three-hour parade snaked through the streets of the city from Lechmere Square to Boylston Street yesterday, mixing politics with ethnic pride and martial music.
Saturday's celebration began with a reenactment of the city's founding in 1630 and ended with a 12-inch shell exploding over the Charles to cap a half-hour of fireworks set to music.
"It was wonderful, really wonderful--worth all the effort," Mary Ellen Fitzgerald, coordinator of the 350th celebration, said yesterday as she stood on trash-lined Boylston St. following the parade. "It couldn't have gone any better."
Fitzgerald's reaction was typical of city leaders, who watched the parade from a Winthrop Square reviewing stand after they walked the three-mile route. "Fine, fine day for a parade," Kevin Crane '73 said as he watched the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School marching band go by.
City councilors and school committee members--working overtime to end one local strike and avert another--waved and smiled as striking workers of Local 195, Independent Public Employees Association, and the Cambridge Teachers Association--which may walk out Friday--marched by.
A group of students standing on Mt. Auburn St. cheered as an enormous motorized Schlitz can wove down the street. "It's a little noisy," a young mother said as she tried to rock her baby to sleep while fire engines with sirens blaring rolled by.
Clear, sunny skies prevailed till the last float vanished down by the river; feared clouds and rain stayed away all weekend, swelling crowds at all the festivities.
Nearly 1000 people turned out on the banks of the Charles for Saturday afternoon's re-enactment ceremonies. A parade of powerboats led by a dinghy carried actors resembling Gov. John Winthrop and Lt. Gov. Thomas Dudley to the shore, where they were greeted by the city council.
Gov. Edward J. King and Lt. Gov. Thomas P. O'Neill III arrived by sea as well, but in separate motor launches. O'Neill drew cheers from his hometown crowd, but King was greeted by a volley of boos and hisses as he stepped ashore.
Later, in a ceremony on Winthrop Square--where the town was founded--Cambridge Mayor Francis H. Duehay '55 called the city's economic future bright and credited the city's rent control program with helping to preserve diversity.
City historian Charles Eliot told the crowd the story of the city's founding, from the first settlement and the founding of Harvard through the great burst of immigration that pushed Cambridge's population over the 100,000 mark in the second half of the 19th century.
The fireworks show, billed as the largest in the area's history, drew crowds large enough to line the Charles for half a mile from the Anderson Bridge.
Fired from behind Soldiers Field, the chrysanthemum bursts and silver shells were set to music. George Plimpton '48 narrated the show on AM radio, describing each firework in the Felix Grucci collection.
"This one is for Cambridge and for the Harvard football team," Plimpton said as the booming finale began