Saturday, July 20, 2024

The British came to Polson, but didn't stay long

Editor | July 11, 2024 12:00 AM

For the third year in a row, Polson parade-watchers were treated to a reenactment of the battles of Lexington and Concord, beginning when Paul Revere galloped down Main Street, shouting “The British are coming!”

And sure enough, they were. The Redcoats, organized by Raven Hall Motorcycle Riding Club, strode into town just before the parade commenced, only to find their path blocked in front of the Elks Club by a small but determined group of Polson Minutemen. The two sides clashed, and the Redcoats prevailed, continuing their march down Main Street to the Polson VFW.

This time, in a haze of smoke and crackle of musket fire, the Minutemen fended them off and disarmed their foes.

This marks the third year the Polson VFW has re-enacted the two battles of April 19, 1775, that ignited the seven-year War of Independence. Each year, Raven Hall MRC “has stepped in to ensure we have enough Redcoats to engage the Polson Minutemen,” says organizer Mike Lee, a VFW member and Polson Boxing Club coach.

Around 20 Redcoats engaged in this year's skirmish, while 30 Polson Minutemen took to the street.

Lee describes their efforts as “a practice,” leading up to the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.

“Next year is our final practice before this event,” Lee said. “Each year, we get better.”

And each year organizers tweak the battles. This year, they added smoke – “but it got a bit too thick.”

Next year’s version may eliminate the Lexington clash, where a handful of Minutemen are forced back to Concord, and instead focus on “one big battle to concentrate the viewing experience.”

Also, they plan to “straighten out the fighting line of British troops for a more ominous look.”

The team includes many “regulars,” Lee says, including Tomy Parker, who reads the history that lead up to the Revolution right before Dr. Isaac Billings rides down Main Street as Paul Revere. The first time out, in 2022, 9-year-old Lincoln Skupien played the part by galloping through town on a stick horse. For the last two years, he has drummed for the British, along with Miles Fegal. Armando Garcia controls the audio for the battle while Russ Harbin, of the Raven Hall MRC, marshals the Redcoats.

John and Sonya Delmonico, of G.O.A.T. Milk Ice Cream, organize the Polson Minutemen upstairs in the VFW.

“It is no small task equipping over 30 youth with shirts, caps and muskets,” says Lee.

Jared Lewing carried the British flag while Gunner Vaughan carried the Betsy Ross flag.

All participants received a t-shirt and a Polson Boxing Club tote containing beads, a U.S. flag pin, a beverage and a historical newspaper.

“We are blessed to live in a small town where we can pull this off without practice,” Lee said, noting that many of the children participants “are pulled off the street the day of the event.”

As to their motivation? “We love Polson. We love freedom.”

    THE BRITISH ARE COMING, or at least they were Thursday, July 4, as the Red Coats marched down Main Street in Polson, preparing for a clash with the Minutemen. (Kristi Niemeyer/Leader)
    THE POLSON MINUTEMEN prepare for an initial skirmish with the Red Coats prior to Polson's parade on July 4. (Kristi Niemeyer/Leader)