The stars and stripes were raised over Washington Old Hall on the Fourth of July as part of international celebrations for American Independence Day.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Sunderland, Councillor David Snowdon and Councillor Dianne Snowdon, welcomed visitors from both the UK and the USA to the ancestral home of the first American President.

The theme of this year’s event was ‘Welcome’ and there was a civic welcome for American guests, Governor of the Society of Mayflower Descendants, Dr Carla Rigby, and associate of the Mayflower Society, Albert Grady, who helped raise the flag at this year’s Fourth of July celebrations.

Carla and Albert also joined the Friends of Washington Old Hall, the National Trust and visitors in singing the US national anthem as part of the flag raising ceremony.

The event took place in the ornamental gardens of the house and grounds, cared for by the National Trust, with participants from Sunderland Youth Council and pupils from four local junior and primary schools – Washington Academy, JFK Primary, George Washington Primary and Broadway Juniors.

The Mayor of Sunderland, Cllr David Snowdon said: “The annual Fourth of July celebrations are an annual reminder of Sunderland’s close economic and cultural ties with America and its capital city, and our Friendship Agreement with Washington DC.

“As Mayor I was proud to represent the people of Sunderland at this year’s event, as we celebrate our special relationship with the United States.  It is an excellent time to reflect on the opportunities we can create through our international engagement.”

National Trust and Operations Manager at Washington Old Hall, Sarah Murray added: “Washington Old Hall is the original medieval home of George Washington’s direct ancestors, so every year we enjoy celebrating the Fourth of July, welcoming friends and supporters from near and far.

“Commemorating the Fourth of July is a tradition started in the 1930s by Fred Hill the local school master who saved Washington Old Hall.

“Fred was an outstanding advocate for Anglo-American friendship, and the annual celebrations are a great opportunity to celebrate friendship and explore universal themes of liberty and equality.”

Sarah Murray added: “One of the annual highlights is songs, plays and sketches performed by young people from local schools, based on Washington’s history and the themes of independence.”

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