A patriotic tradition continues as the Optimist Club of Greater Jacksonville sponsors the 39th annual Independence Day Celebrations. This year's events take place on Saturday, June 28.
The day starts off with a children's bike and pet parade on the Manor Shopping Center's parking lot. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the parade is at 10. For the third year, Monkton's Jim Curd will load up his organ, set it up in the parking lot, and provide live music during the parade.
The evening begins with music, food, contests and entertainment behind Jacksonville Elementary School, just off Jarrettsville Pike.
"People set up their chairs and blankets on the hill several hours before the fireworks start," said Dennis Lane, Optimist board member who helped organize the first Independence Day activities in 1976 to commemorate the nation's bicentennial. "This is a real family event."
The band, The Objections plays from 6 p.m. until the start of the fireworks and children's entertainer Apple John performs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.. There will also be children's activities, including dancers from Carroll Manor Recreation Council programs.
For par golfers as well as duffers, there is a Closest to the Pin contest and a golf ball drop to benefit Optimist Childhood Cancer campaign.
Food, including pit beef, ice cream and snowballs, will be sold before the fireworks.
The rain date for the fireworks only is Saturday, July 5.
Lane said the Optimist Club members have been selling raffle tickets in front of Safeway at the Manor Shopping Center to raise money for the fireworks. Members pass donation buckets through the crowds the evening of the event, too. He said local businesses have also contributed to make the festivities a success.
Meanwhile, the June 29 Hereford Parade has a new grand marshal. Erika Brannock, injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, had to withdraw from leading the parade. The families of Norman Anderson and Joshua Snyder, two Hereford High School graduates killed in Iraq in 2005, will now start the parade at 6 p.m.
They are a fitting choice, since the theme of the parade is "Our Fallen Heroes." The first parade in 2006 was dedicated to the two Marines.
Hereford will get into the patriotic spirit when businesses and houses get decked out in red, white and blue for a decoration contest. The area to be decorated includes: York Road between Casa Mia's and Everett Road; Mt. Carmel Road between I-83 and York Road; and Monkton Road between York and Big Falls roads. Judging is June 22 and 23.
A new feature this year is a dog costume contest at 3:30 p.m. behind the main grandstand on York Road. Winners will get a ride on a float in the parade.
The Festival at Hereford High School takes place in the time between the end of the parade and the beginning of fireworks. It has three bands to keep folks entertained as well as food, games and activities.