Bell Raisers Enjoy a Patriotic Clangor

How do you spend a leisurely afternoon in our nation’s capital on the Fourth of July? A picnic, of course! And no picnic is complete without a bit of entertainment or music. Thankfully, we had our bells.

This Independence Day, over two dozen Bell Raisers (our intrepid group of campanologists, bell enthusiasts, and supporters) descended on the piquant landscape of the Robert A. Taft Memorial and Carillon. Bringing baskets brimming with treats and refreshments, the Bell Raisers laid out quite the spread along the shaded memorial knoll. Then the clock struck 2:00pm.

Each Fourth of July, by resolution of Congress, the Carillonneur of the Capitol plays "The Star-Spangled Banner" and other patriotic favorites from the 11-story bell tower at precisely two o’clock. Jim Saenger, the Capitol’s carillonneur since 1974, struck up the national anthem on the 27 bronze bells residing within the belfry. Cast by the Paccard Bell Foundry of Annecy-le-Vieux, France, the heaviest weighs seven tons and is the largest swinging bell in Washington, D.C. 

During the roughly half-hour concert, the carillon recital gave amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties a run for their money across the spacious skies of the National Mall – the resounding tolls simply boomed with patriotic fervor. It was an afternoon that will not soon be forgotten. We look forward to the tradition continuing next year, too.

Get up close and personal with Washington's historic bells and bell towers

Join the fun and receive exclusive invitations to historic sites and thrilling adventures by becoming a Bell Raiser today! With a $75 annual contribution, Bell Raisers support the work of the National Bell Festival – restoring America’s bell heritage and bringing eclectic events and programming to Washington on New Year’s Day. Don’t miss out!