More relevant than ever as box offices continue to boom with Christopher Nolan’s "Oppenheimer", Rhode Island is the only state that observes Victory Day (V-J Day). This marks the end of World War II after the surrender of Japan on August 14, 1945. This has been unique to The Ocean State since Arkansas dropped it from its official list of holidays in 1975.
Celebrated the 2nd Monday of every August since 1948, the holiday seems to fly under the radar for everyone other than the state officials who have the day off.
Pictured above is George Mendonsa, a lifelong Newport, RI native whose famous kiss in Times Square the day WWII ended was one of the most famous images of the war next to the image of the flag raising at Iwo Jima.
The smallest state with the longest name is unique in many ways. Since Rhody was the 13th state to join the Union, Newport Charter Group has decided to celebrate this by ranking 13 of our favorite claims to fame.
13. Buddy Cianci-
21 Years as Mayor of Providence, a few behind bars and a few years on TV and the radio, we are proud to call Buddy ours despite the corruption associated with his name. In fact, we almost re-elected him in 2014, almost 40 years from his first election. Buddy will always be known for revitalizing the industrial city of Providence into a thriving center for business, culture and tourism.
12. Awful Awful-
“Awful big and Awful good” Newport Creamery’s delicious version of a milkshake which utilizes ice milk and syrup instead of hard ice cream. We strongly suggest trying the Coffee flavor but they are all good! There are currently ten Newport Creamery locations with eight of which located in Rhode Island. There is one good thing about Monday’s and that is The Newport Creamery’s Awful Awful buy one get one free Awful Monday deal.
These Stuffed Quahogs stir up a lot of debate. Everyone has their own recipe and everyone thinks theirs are the best. The only thing we know for sure is they are best in Rhode Island. Stuffies are made when a Quahog’s shell is packed with chopped clam quahog meat, bread crumbs, herbs, onions, bell pepper, chorizo and whatever your secret ingredient is. My great-uncle claims a splash of Rolling Rock beer does the trick. Just this year as part of Rhode Island’s tourism campaign, giant-sized Stuffie statues have been installed in Los Angeles, Detroit, Atlanta and Baltimore airports. Stuffies are best in your kitchen though or at Anthony’s Seafood, Evelyn’s Drive-In or Blount Clam Shack.
10. Ida Lewis
The Keeper of Lime Rock Lighthouse for 54 years. We all grew up reading of her courage and strength while saving 18 souls from tragic ends in Newport Harbor. Ida was the most famous women in Newport, outshining the likes of Florence Vanderbilt. Ida was gifted a special rowboat called the Rescue. It was 14 feet long, with four ours, copper hardware and red velvet cushions on the bench. Hundred of people including President Ulysses S. Grant donated money for this gift. 10,000 visitors alone came to visit Ida in 1869. In fact, Elizabeth Candy Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were known visitors. Today Lime Rock is home to Ida Lewis Yacht Club which houses many artifacts from the Ida Lewis’s days as keeper.
9. Religious Freedom
Pilgrims came to America to practice their faith but Rhode Island quickly became the haven for true religious freedom. Roger Williams lasted just 5 years in Massachusetts before he fled to found his own settlement where he could worship as he pleased without social or legal persecution. He named this settlement “Providence” meaning the protective care of God. Three years later, another famous Rhode Islander was expelled from Massachusetts Bay Colony for speaking out against the lack of religious liberty. Rhode Island was not just a haven for the “religious rebels” from Massachusetts. Newport became the location of the Americas first Jewish congregations in 1658 when Jewish descendants fled the brutality of the Spanish Inquisition. The same congregation constructed the Touro Synagogue which is the oldest synagogue still standing in the United States.
8. RI Clam Chowder
Far superior to the white creamy New England Clam Chowder and criminally tomato infused style made in Manhattan, Rhode Island Clam Chowder is served in a clear broth. Yes, it is simple yet delicious. RI Clam Chowder also includes red potatoes, white onion, celery, salt time and small bits of bacon. Although it is served New England style, The Black Pearl has the best Chowder on Aquidneck Island and probably New England. They even sell it in 51 ounce cans!
7. Narragansett Beer
The slogan which is about as recognizable as the beer… perfectly encapsulates Rhode Island “Hi-Neighbor”. Founded in 1890, this is New England’s Oldest Beer. Gansett never strays from their classic 16 oz tall boy but they are great at releasing novelty cans with a local flair. Narragansett offers a Del’s Shandy, Coffee Milk Stout and Allie’s Donut porter which are three Rhode Island staples. Ice cold Narragansetts are offered on all Newport Charter Cruises!
America’s first resort, Newport “houses” many of our country's most grand and extravagant mansions. These “summer cottages” with their large columns, platinum-covered walls, intricate mosaics and marble statues, offer a glimpse into our country's Gilded Age. Fourteen of these mansions are owned by the Newport Preservation Society and are available for tours. A few of which are:
Family: The Vanderbilts
Year Built: 1895
Unique Features: Italian palazzo design, designed by famous architect Richard Morris Hunt. The property is on 13 acres with stunning views of the sea, exterior is full of large columns and arches. The Breakers has a massive grand hall with 50 ft ceilings, over 70 rooms and 27 fireplaces. This was one of the first private residences to be equipped with electricity
Family: The Vanderbilts
Year Built: 1892
Unique Features: Also designed by Richard Morris Hunt, Marble House was inspired by the Trianon at Versailles. There are 500,000 cubic feet of marble. Most of which was transported from Italy. Scenes from the 1974 film, Great Gatsby were filmed here. Although not aligned with the French theme, there was a Chinese Tea House installed along the coast which is viewable from the Cliff Walk.
Family: The Oelrichs- Nevada Silver Tycoon
Year Built: 1902
Unique Features: On 21 Acres of Newport’s coastline filled with large marble statues, benches and fountains. Rosecliff was known for its lavish parties and had Newport’s largest ballroom. Harry Houdini was once the hired entertainment for one of Theresa Oelrich’s parties.
Family: Berwind- Coal Mining Tycoon
Year Built: 1902
Unique Features: The third largest Newport “cottage” at 31,401 sq feet. Built with white limestone with over 50 rooms on 14 acres with French/Italian landscaped gardens. When The Elms opened in 1902 included over 400 guests and in attendance were monkeys which were shipped in for the event. These monkeys were found throughout Newport for days to come after the party.
((Pronounced Ko-hog) Is the State Shell of Rhode Island. If you aren’t from Rhode Island, you probably call it a clam. Quahog’s have played a vital role here well before Roger Williams arrived from Massachusetts. Quahog stems from the Narragansett word, ’poquhock.’ Quahogs white and purple inner shells would be transformed by Native Americans into Wampum beads which served many purposed. Wampum would be used to make jewelry, decorations, tell stories, seal treaties and as form of currency. Wampum was legal tender in Rhode Island from 1637-1661. Quahogs still play a huge role in Rhode Island today. Narragansett Bay Quahogs are the “clams” used in Campbell Soup’ Clam Chowder sold worldwide. Being able to catch them in knee deep water just a few feet from shore, they are the base to all Rhode Island Clam Chowders, Stuffies, Clam Cake, Clambakes. Rhode Island residents are not required to have a license and are allowed to keep 1 peck per day! Many people use special rakes but the veterans are able to use their toes. The smallest Quahogs are called Little Necks. When they are five to six years old and are about the size of your palm they are called Cherry Stones. These are the preferred choice to tie together a clambake or shoot raw. Quahogs can live to over 225 years and if you find one over 5.5 inches, it is estimated to be 100 years old!
4. Coffee Milk
The official beverage of Rhode Island since July 1993. Its origins are unknown, but Coffee Syrup is essentially sweetened, concentrated coffee that is added to milk much like chocolate syrup. Rhode Islanders like it so much that it should replace strawberry in the famous Neapolitan trio. We do not have stats to back it up but I believe it is the top selling milkshake flavor and Awful Awful in the state. There is a factory that manufactures our favorite syrup in Lincoln, RI.
Meaning “Great” or “Very much so” but with enthusiasm. Despite being able to drive through the entire state in thirty minutes, Rhode Island has very differing accents in every town. The one word that ties us all together is Wicked and no matter where you are in the world, if you hear wicked come out of someone’s mouth, you know where their roots are.
2. Big Blue Bug
Is the giant termite mascot of Big Blue Bug Solutions. Named Nibbles Woodaway, the 58 ft long, 4,000lb “art piece” is located along I-95 in Providence. Nibbles has been a Rhode Island staple since 1980 and is driven by over 35,000 people a day.
The first Del’s frozen lemonade was sold from a small pushable cart in Cranston, RI. Now it is recognizable internationally, sold in over 20 states and is one of the most popular items at Fenway Park on a hot summer day. The trucks can be found at all the major beaches and state parks throughout Rhode Island. The iconic four green letters on the side of the world’s most recognizable lemon derives from its founder’s last name DeLucia. The original flavor was Lemon but Del’s now offers watermelon, peach-mango, blueberry, cherry and even blood orange at select locations. Nothing better than using the red straw with the little slush shovel at the bottom to enjoy a Del’s at the beach.