Happy Evacuation Day!Every November 25, New York celebrates its independence from the British. What, you didn't know about Evacuation Day? It is a much more awesome holiday than Thanksgiving, because it involves gunfire, greased flagpoles, and indignities being visited upon English people, one of the fundamental tenets of comedy. The British never made very likely imperialists because, as we all know, they're a fey bunch of ninnies who enjoy dressing in ladies' clothing and tending to their gardens. But they did run United States for a time, and their terrible despotic rule was marked with grievous injustices like asking that we pay an extra ha'penny (which in modern dollars is nearly a tuppence!) to drink our precious tea. So after some mooks in Boston got wasted, dressed in racist costumes, and engaged in some reckless property damage (some things never change, right?) we all decided that meant war, and a couple years later, the rest of the colonies had beaten the British and all that remained was for them to finally leave New York, where we never really minded their presence that much, as they were certainly preferable to those mooks in Boston. Still, the British were a little bitter about having to leave New York and go back to London, where the ladies all had comically screechy voices and sometimes chased you around at high speed while wearing frilly lingerie. So on their way out of town, they acted quite the cads!
Departing British troops nailed their flag to a pole downtown and greased it. Every November, a descendant would re-enact the legendary feat of John Van Arsdale, a sailor, who donned cleats and shimmied up the flagpole to replace the British colors with the Stars and Stripes. As George Washington triumphantly proceeded Downtown, jeering Americans on Staten Island were fired upon by a British ship in what has been described as the last shot fired in the war.
All that nonsense happened on this day in 1783, and New York used to celebrate with parades. The Irish were really into it. The celebrations leveled off when World War I came along, and we had to like the British again, but you can still head down to Battery Park today and see some nerds dressed in funny costumes reenacting the goofiest end to the goofiest insurrection in history. Some goofily dressed nerds won't be participating, of course:
On Monday, a spokeswoman for the British consul-general in New York said he had no plans to commemorate Evacuation Day.
Sore losers!