This year, for the 30th year, Bethany Beach will host dignitaries, marching bands, entertainment and plenty of bicyclists, walking groups and floats to celebrate Independence Day on Thursday, July 4, starting at noon with the annual Fourth of July parade.
Registration will be held the day of the parade from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Those with floats are being asked to register at the corner of Route 1 and Central Avenue, and bikes and walkers can check in on the Christian Church grounds.
But the holiday will get off to an early start with pre-parade festivities when the fifth annual Firecracker 5K takes place on Sunday, June 30, at 8 a.m. The 5K run/3K walk is a fundraiser for the parade and a comparative newcomer, a quarter-century younger.
Registration for the Firecracker 5K, which costs $25 the day of the race, starts at 7 a.m. on Sunday. The race starts at 8 a.m. that day, at the intersection of Garfield Parkway and Atlantic Avenue, rain or shine. Prizes will be awarded to the top five male and female finishers, and there will be a post-race awards ceremony at 9 a.m. at the bandstand.
On the Fourth of July itself, events will start at noon with the parade, which is scheduled to host local dignitaries including Bethany Beach Mayor Tony McClenney, Sussex County Councilman George Cole, state Rep. Ron Gray, state Sen. Gerald Hocker, South Bethany Mayor Kathleen—who will appear on the Town of South Bethany’s first float — as well as Miss Delaware Alyssa Murray. The parade will close with a taste of Christmas in July: an appearance by Santa Claus.
“That’s when you know the parade has ended,” joked Phillip Rossi, parade organizer, “when you see the big guy in the red suit.”
Rossi has been working with the Town in organizing the parade for the past 10 years, but this year is the first year it is an official town-sponsored event. Previously, the parade — and all of its expenses — have been the responsibility of an independent group.
The theme of this year’s parade is “Wish You Were Here for Bethany in Bloom.” Rossi said the organizers had picked town landscape architect and horticulturist Melinda Linde to be the grand marshal, to honor her and all the work she does with the flowers within the town. The parade will also honor the Bethany Beach Public Works department for its assistance with the beautification efforts.
“It is to honor Melinda and all the great work she has done in this town,” said Rossi. “A lot of people come up to me and say how great it is that the town is honoring her and all the beautiful work she has done.”
The parade will also include five marching bands and eight entertainment groups.
The bands will include the Tidewater Brass Band, Delmarva District Pipe Band, the Chester County Emerald Society Pipe Band, the 287 National Guard Band, the Trilby String Band, and the Delaware Militia Fife and Drum Band.
Entertainment on trucks and various vehicles will include the Backbay Strummers, Milford Community Band, Nautical Sounds, Oxford Brass, German Oompah Band, Paddlewheel Struters, the Honeycombs, Antique Carousel Organ, the Peppertone Rockers and the 1st State Detachment Marine Corps.
The master of ceremonies for the 2013 parade will be Jennifer Carter, a local artist who designed this year’s collectible parade-fundraiser T-shirts, as she has in years past. The T-shirts, featuring postcard views of Bethany and its floral décor, are available for sale on the boardwalk, in front of the bandstand area, starting at 6:30 every evening until the parade, or people can call Rossi at (302) 539-2805 to purchase them. They cost $10 for children and $15 for adults. They will also be sold on the morning of the parade on the Christian Church grounds.
Later in the day, at 2 p.m., there will be a horseshoe-throwing contest on the Christian Church grounds, and at 7:15 p.m., there will be a parade awards ceremony on the bandstand. At 7:30 p.m., the Milford Community Band is scheduled to perform on the bandstand.
The annual fireworks display will take place over the boardwalk, beginning at dusk. The rain date for the fireworks is Friday, July 5.
For more information on the Fourth of July events, visit townofbethanybeach.com.