225th Anniversary of the Washington - Rochambeau Revolutionary War Route.
Friday, June 30 through Sunday July 2, 2006
March to Victory Weekend- Ridgefield

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“March to Victory” Weekend:
June 30th - July 2nd, 2006

Press Release Date: February 18, 2006
Contact: Bill Lucas, Publicity Coordinator; (203) 438-2124 day and night

Subject: Washington-Rochambeau “March to Victory” Weekend
               A 225th Anniversary Celebration in Ridgefield, CT

Background of the March

French General Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, and thousands of French ground and naval forces arrived in Newport, RI on July of 1780 to assist the Americans in their War for Independence. After wintering in Newport, Rochambeau’s troops marched through Connecticut to join General George Washington’s Continental Army just over the New York border. The combined forces then moved down the eastern seaboard and confronted Lieutenant General Earl Cornwallis and the British army in Yorktown, Virginia. After a prolonged siege, Cornwallis surrendered on Oct. 19, 1781, virtually ending the Revolutionary War and ensuring American independence.

In honor of these significant events in our early history, The National Parks Service, the U.S. Congress and the State of Connecticut have designated this nine state “March to Victory” as an official national trail.

Rochambeau's troops camped in Ridgebury, July 1 to July 2, 1781. It was their eleventh and last camp in Connecticut before crossing the border into New York and joining with Washington’s Continental Army near what is today, White Plains, NY, on July 3, 1781. Their encampment was on the ridge to the west of Ridgebury Road, near what is now its intersection with Old Stagecoach Road. Before leaving for New York, Rochambeau celebrated his 56th birthday in Ridgebury at the Ensign Samuel Keeler’s Tavern. The next morning, a Sunday, one of Rochambeau’s regimental chaplains led a Catholic mass for the French troops, prior to their departure.

After the success at Yorktown, Rochambeau’s army returned north in the summer of 1782, passing through Ridgebury en route to Boston.

The Celebration of the “March to Victory:” First weekend of July, 2006

A weekend of fun and educational events for all ages will run throughout the Ridgefield area, starting at the Ridgefield Library on Friday evening, June 30. The noted Historian, Dr. Robert Selig, will set the stage with a spellbinding account of the impact of the march on rural Ridgefield.

Following, on Saturday July 1, is the re-enactment of Rochambeau’s encampment at the Ridgebury Meadow, near the same spot as the French Army’s 1781 encampment. This will be the largest French army re-enactor encampment in New England along the nine state trail. The event will include skirmishing by re-enactors dressed as French, British and American troops and there will be Rochambeau, Lafayette and Washington appearances. The afternoon concludes with a colonial marching band parading down Main Street.

That evening is capped with an 18th Century-style costume ball in honor of Rochambeau’s birthday, with food, drink, dance, gaming and even a magician at the historic Lounsbury House, Ridgefield’s Community Center.

Tickets and information for the Ball are available through the “March to Victory” website:     http://www.ridgefieldvictorymarch.org

Sunday continues the celebration. Two 1770’s style worship services will be conducted. The Ridgebury Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, will conduct a Divine Service at 10 AM; and a traditional Roman Catholic Mass “in-the-field” will be held in the Ridgebury Meadow at 11:30 AM (where the re-enactment was held Saturday). At 6:30 PM, the USAF Band of Liberty will give a celebratory concert at Veterans Park Field, bringing Ridgefield’s “March to Victory” Weekend to a joyful close.

Museum-quality exhibits and educational programs for all ages, will be available throughout the weekend at the Ridgefield Historical Society, Ridgefield Library and also the Keeler Tavern Museum, Ridgebury Congregational Church, and Ridgebury Cemetery, most of which existed during the time of Rochambeau’s march.

This “March to Victory” weekend celebration would not be possible without the support of these financial sponsors: Aquarion Corporation, Century 21 Real Estate (Hon. John Frey), Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, Connecticut Humanities Council, Discovery Center of Ridgefield, Keeler Tavern Museum, Ridgefield Bank, Ridgebury Congregational Church, Ridgefield Historical Society, Ridgefield Kiwanis, Ridgefield Library Association, Russell Wadsworth Lewis Fund, Union Savings Bank, and the Town of Ridgefield, Connecticut.

All the events, exhibits and programs are open to the public.

For more event and historical information; and to purchase tickets for the Saturday night (July 1st) “March to Victory” 18th century costume ball,      please visit our website: www.ridgefieldvictorymarch.org .

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The 225th Anniversary of the American Revolution
Aquarion Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism
The Connecticut Humanites CouncilThe Friends Of The Ridgefield Library Association KIWANIS
Ridgefield Bank
The Russell Wadsworth Lewis Trust
March to Victory Weekend
Friday, June 30 through Sunday July 2, 2006 - Ridgefield, Connecticut
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