Hub tourists experience holiday like never before

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By Martine Powers
Globe Correspondent / July 5, 2011

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For Ludmilla and Paul-Emile Petre, siblings from Brussels, Independence Day in Boston is nothing like its Belgian counterpart.

“During our Independence yesterday, we have a parade,’’ Ludmilla said. “But everyone dressing up and wearing the colors of the flag - that, we do not have.’’

Tourists walking the Freedom Trail and visiting the graves of famous patriots at Granary Burying Ground yesterday said the experience was unlike any Independence Day they’d had.

Sisters Susan Galli, 47, of Trenton, N.J., and Holly Meekin, 51, of Phoenix, called themselves “big-time tourists’’ and wore matching red T-shirts with American flags as they walked the Freedom Trail. They were excited to spend the holiday in a city brimming with American history.

“Here, I feel more connected to the holiday as Independence Day, as opposed to the Fourth of July,’’ Galli said. “I feel like I’m more in touch with the history and the reason for the celebration. In Jersey, July Fourth is a picnic.’’

Meekin and Galli, who brought their children on their trip, have watched the Boston Pops Independence Day concert on the television for years. They decided this would be the year to see the festivities live.

“For us, the Pops are the thing to watch tonight,’’ said Meekin, who sported I-heart-USA earrings.

American pride was everywhere along the Freedom Trail. A tour guide dressed in 18th-century garb wore a hat with a fluffy red-white-and-blue plume. At Granary Burying Ground, fresh wreaths with red and white flowers decorated the graves of John Hancock and Peter Faneuil.

Leslie Goldfarb, 68, and her husband, Harold, 66, came to the burial ground from Seattle for a special reason.

Leslie pointed at a cluster of graves in the back of the cemetery. “Yup, my relatives are buried right over there,’’ she said. Elizabeth Checkley Adams, the first wife of Samuel Adams, is one of her ancestors.

“July Fourth in Boston is very stirring, because there are all these special events and sites,’’ Leslie said. “Everywhere you look, there’s lots of history here.’’

Martine Powers can be reached at