Independence Day was celebrated at the ancestral home of America’s first president today - as a corner of Sunderland stood shoulder-to-shoulder with their counterparts from over the pond.
Heavy rain failed to dampen the spirits of those who attended at Washington Old Hall, at The Avenue, as the town’s historic and recent links with the USA and Washington DC were recognised.
A ceremony – featuring children from four school’s in Washington – was followed by the raising of the flag of the United States, and the singing of the American national anthem.
The event was organised in partnership by the National Trust, Friends of Washington Old Hall and Sunderland City Council.
National Trust general manager Mick Wilkes said: “This is a really important tradition, and it’s great that the schools were involved again.
“We are proud of the fact that the first president of the USA, George Washington, has family links in this little corner of the North East, and it is important that it is celebrated.
There is a rich history here – not just because of George Washington – and it’s great that we’re able to bring that history to lifeMick Wilkes
“There is a rich history here – not just because of George Washington – and it’s great that we’re able to bring that history to life.”
Children from George Washington Primary School, John F Kennedy Primary School, Broadway Junior School and Washington School were represented at the ceremony, which was themed around culture as Sunderland continues its bid to become the UK City of Culture.
Readings and presentations were made by the children, before Kieron Huggins, of Washington School, presented the American flag wearing the Washington Grey’s uniform of George Washington’s bodyguard.
Rebecca Ball, Sunderland 2021 City of Culture bid director, raised the flag while the anthem was sung.
The Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Doris MacKnight said: “This annual event is always a colourful one and one we can be very proud of.
“It’s always an honour representing our community and this is a very special occasion which symbolises our unique links with the United States and its capital city.”
Sarah Murray, property operations manager at Washington Old Hall, said: “The ceremony and programme highlights our strong links with the US, Washington DC, and Washington Old Hall is, of course, the family home of George Washington’s ancestors and from where they took their name.”