The British are coming! And the French! In fact, representatives from countries around the world will arrive in the region in July of 2026 to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the United States. The local non-profit organization Revolutionary Westchester 250 (RW250) is working to ensure that Westchester County plays a central role in these regional celebrations, matching the crucial role the county played during the Revolutionary War itself. The organization has set an ambitious agenda for 2024, seeking to build momentum towards the “semiquincentennial,” while rolling out new programming ranging from free, GPS-enabled audio tours to presentations across the county.
RW250 President Constance Kehoe commented, “Many Westchester residents remember the excitement of the Bicentennial celebrations in 1976. As we approach the 250th Anniversary of our nation’s founding, we want to ensure that new audiences, including our young residents, gain an appreciation for the role that Westchester County played in the American Revolution.” She continued, “Perhaps we can even inspire a sense of wonder at the origins and future of our nation’s grand democratic experiment while we continue to work together to build a more perfect union.”
During 2024, RW250 plans a number of special initiatives. During Black History Month in February, the organization plans programming drawing attention to the often overlooked contribution of Black soldiers of the Rhode Island Regiment. During Women’s History Month in March, a program will highlight the remarkable story of Deborah Sampson, a courageous woman who disguised herself as a man and fought in the Continental Army.
In spring 2024, the organization will launch a free, GPS-enabled audio tour, created in partnership with TravelStorysGPS, that highlights key Revolutionary-era sites throughout Westchester County. Residents and visitors will be able to download the free app and the tour to their iPhone or Android devices and listen as they travel to the various locations. RW250 will also be debuting a free map and guide to key Revolutionary War sites across the county for residents and visitors to access.
In fall 2024, RW250 will partner with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund on a special exhibition at The Pocantico Center in Tarrytown with details to be announced.
One area of focus for RW250 in 2024 is working with regional partners including Sail 4th 250. This organization is well underway in its work to create the “Sail4th 250” celebration in New York, featuring tall ships from around the world. While New York City will be a focus for these vessels in celebrations culminating on July 4, 2026, RW250 is working closely with organizers to extend a Parade of Sail for selected vessels to sail north up the Hudson River immediately after the NYC event. Potential docking in cities including Yonkers and Peekskill, as well as spectator viewing from shoreline communities and the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge Path, would enable local residents to experience these magnificent ships from distinctive vantage points. The county’s sound shore communities would also experience selected ships sailing into New York City’s breathtaking celebration in advance of July 4th. Long Island Sound was a hunting ground for privateers, smugglers, and spies during the revolution.
The Hudson River played a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War, so a parade of ships up the river is historically relevant and will also provide access to anniversary celebrations for a broad cross-section of New York State residents. Such maritime displays do require financial support, however, and for this reason RW250 and its regional partners are urging NY State lawmakers to allocate funds towards the initiative. Likewise, the group is urging Governor Kathy Hochul to complete the appointments needed to seat New York State’s 250th Commemoration Commission. Formation of the commission will qualify the State for Federal Funding related to the 250th Anniversary Celebration.
Natasha Caputo, Director of Westchester County Tourism and Film, and a member of the RW250 Advisory Board, added, “Westchester played a vital role in America’s battle for independence. We look forward to welcoming visitors this year and in the years ahead who seek to learn more about the people and places that led to our country’s founding. We’re confident that the combination of historic sites, special events, natural beauty and recreational opportunities here in Westchester will have visitors coming back for more!”
Visitors can stay informed about upcoming events by subscribing to Revolutionary Westchester 250’s monthly e-newsletter at www.rw250.org. They can also follow the organization on Facebook @revolutionarywestchester250 or on Instagram @revolutionary_westchester_250