Annual Ringing of the Bells

The Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum works with the staff of the Eric Sloane Museum to hold the annual “Ringing of the Bells” ceremony that takes place on July 4th in commemoration of the signing of The Declaration of Independence. This museum tradition started many years ago and is based on Eric Sloane’s work to have bells wrung in celebration of America’s independence.

Writing of the impetus for the movement to have bells rung in commemoration of American independence, author Wil Mauch wrote in Symbols of American Spirit that “A third man linked professionally to Sloane played a significant role in developing the idea for a museum into a reality – Eric Hatch.  An author turned historian, Eric Hatch may be best known for the 1935 film My Man Godfrey, the screenplay for which was crafted from Hatch’s 1101 Park Avenue.  By 1963, Hatch authored A Guide to Historic Sites in Connecticut and in 1964 worked with Eric Sloane on The Little Book of Bells, for which Eric created the illustrations.  

The Little Book of Bells was an outgrowth of the “Let Freedom Ring” project envisioned by the two men, who met as “The Committee of Two Erics” to promote an idea born from a radio interview Eric gave in July of 1962.  During that interview, Sloane spoke of the early American tradition of ringing bells in celebration of the nation’s independence instead of the more modern tradition of fireworks displays.  Listeners responded enthusiastically to the idea, and the “Committee of the Two Erics” began an article and letter writing campaign that ultimately led to a joint congressional proclamation (77 Stat. 9441), adopted 26 June 1963 to ring bells across America in commemoration of the nation’s independence.  

The “Committee of the Two Erics” photographed with the Liberty Bell.  From Symbols of American Spirit: 50 Years of the Eric Sloane Museum

The Friends organization provides free picnic snacks for visitors to the bell ringing ceremonies, and Wil Mauch has been known to bring a 19th century brass locomotive bell for visitors to ring (see photo below).

Visitors are encouraged to ring the bell atop the Eric Sloane Museum during the “Ringing of the Bells” event held annually on 4 July.
Aiden Cherniske plays The Star Spangled Banner for visitors
Kent’s First Selectmen and Friends board member Bruce Adams reads The Declaration of Independence

We hope to see you next year at the annual “Ringing of the Bells” at the Eric Sloane Museum!