From coast to countryside, organizers are gearing up with weekend activities and finishing up final preparations for Monday’s slew of events celebrating Independence Day.
Fireworks, parades, entertainment and patriotic displays will be the featured attractions at the local holiday events, with delights for celebrants of all ages and tastes planned throughout the day and those leading up to it.
Hosted by the town and organized by its Fourth of July Parade Committee, festivities in Bethany Beach will focus on the feel of “small-town America” and officially commence at noon on Monday, with the kickoff of the 2005 edition of the annual parade.
“Bethany Beach Celebrates the Five Freedoms” is the parade theme in this, its 21st year, and its grand marshal will be Bethany Beach resident Joe McHugh.
The “five freedoms” refer to freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition. And McHugh is notable in his grand marshal position not only as the town’s former mayor but also as a long-time parade supporter and committee member.
Lined up to participate in the parade are two “mummer” groups: the Downtowners Fancy Brigade and Two Street String Band, and three other marching bands: Tidewater Brass Band, the German Brass Band and the Delmar District Bagpipe Band.
Entertainers in the parade are also set to include Al Santoro & The Hi-Liters, the Back Bay Strummers, local steel-drum players from the Southern Delaware School of the Arts’ Steel the Show, barbershop singing by The Nautical Sounds, Joe Ragan’s one-piece poker band and the Shriners’ mini-Corvettes.
Local community groups and businesses routinely enter creative floats and marching groups in the parade, while the event also traditionally features patriotically decorated bicycles ridden by cyclists of all ages. (The parade committee provides decoration kits to those interested in cycling the parade route.)
Registration for parade participants — from bicyclists to floats and walking groups — will be held from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on the day of the parade, on the grounds of the Christian Church in downtown Bethany Beach.
And awards for parade participants will be presented on the town’s bandstand at 3 p.m., after the parade. The awards will be decided based on creativity in depicting the parade’s theme of “the Five Freedoms.”
A fond farewell has been said to one parade tradition this year: the house-decorating contest. The event is being cancelled due to limited participation in the past, according to committee members.
The horseshoe contest is on, though, to begin at the conclusion of the parade (approximately 2 p.m.) on the grounds of the church.
Committee Chairman Phil Rossi noted that while the town provides logistical help to organizers each year, funds to cover the costs of putting on the parade are raised through donations from local citizens, businesses and organizations.
The committee has also been offering commemorative T-shirts for the event, as an additional method of fund-raising. The T-shirts, which depict the parade’s theme, have been available every evening on the boardwalk and at downtown retailers Bethany Trading Co.; Kites, Tails and Toys; and Pitter-Patter.
Those taking in the 2 p.m. horseshoe contest or 3 p.m. parade awards ceremony will have good reason to continue to stick around and relax on the beach and boardwalk for a few more hours.
At 7:30 p.m., the Philadelphia German Brass Band is set to take the stage on the town’s bandstand and entertain holiday celebrants.
And once the sun has set and dusk has settled in, eyes will turn to the skies in anticipation of the first burst of holiday fireworks off the beach at Wellington Parkway.
The expected start time for the pyrotechnics display is approximately 9:20 p.m., but the extra element of surprise will lie in the exact timing, depending on astronomical movements and weather. Those hoping for the best seats for the fireworks will need to stake out their spots on the beach and boardwalk early.
The fireworks are the cap to the annual Fourth of July celebration and will be presented again this year by Schaeffer Pyrotechnics. It’s the fourth year running that the company will be handling the holiday display for the town.
Town Manager Cliff Graviet said the town had had good luck with Schaeffer, and the idea of a show to match the successful 2004 display was greeted enthusiastically by Mayor Jack Walsh, who said (appropriately) of that benchmark, “That was dynamite.”
Graviet said the 2005 edition would indeed be similar, setting high expectations for those eyes on the skies.
For more information on the parade, daytime festivities, evening concert and fireworks display, or to learn about ways to participate in the Bethany Beach Fourth of July celebration, call the town hall at (302) 539-8011.
And Bethany Beach’s plans for the holiday do extend beyond July 4 itself. The town will gear up for the holiday and keep the celebratory spirit alive afterward with a flurry of musical offerings on the boardwalk bandstand.
The summer entertainment series will feature Ocean View native and Nashville performer Beth Ann Cayhall on Friday, July 1, at 7:30 p.m. FAB Mania will perform Sunday, July 2, at 7 p.m. Jimmy Buffett fans will be able to take in Buffett tribute band Captain Quint on Sunday, July 3, at 7:30 p.m.
Following neatly in the wake of the patriotic celebration on Monday, the 553rd Air National Guard Mid-Atlantic Jazz Band will perform Tuesday, July 5, at 7:30 p.m., and the 1st State Harmonizers barbershop group will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 6.
For more information on the full schedule of Independence Day weekend concerts lined up for the Bethany Beach bandstand, call the performance hotline at (302) 539-5484 or visit the town’s Web site at www.townofbethanybeach.com.
Dagsboro Church of God
West of Bethany Beach, in nearby Dagsboro, Independence Day festivities will be hosted by the Dagsboro Church of God. The event, titled “Celebration of Our Nation,” will include a tribute to veterans, as well as entertainment and a food court.
Gates will open at noon on Monday, July 4, with activities from 2 to 10 p.m. A fireworks display is set for dusk, around 9:30 p.m. On-site parking is available. (A $5 donation will be requested). Those attending are encouraged to bring chairs and find a spot early for the best view of the fireworks.
The event will also offer various children’s activities, including amusements, and pony rides and a petting zoo from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.
For general audiences, a visit from a Delaware State Police helicopter is slated for 5 p.m., and skydivers will touch down at 7 p.m. The event is also set to include a visit from Miss Delaware 2004 and performances from gospel and Christian music artists.
The Isaacs and El Trio de Hoy are scheduled as musical headliners, and there will be performances from local talent as well.
The church will also host a holiday prayer service, set for 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 3.
For more information on the Dagsboro event, call (302) 732-6550. The church is located near the northwest corner of the intersection of Routes 113 and 26.
Village at Bear Trap Dunes
The Village at Bear Trap Dunes, located in Ocean View, will hold its annual Fourth of July Parade on the morning of Monday, July 4. The parade will begin at 9 a.m. at the Bear Trap Pavilion.
Groups are being invited to show their patriotism by decorating floats, classic cars, bicycles, pets and more. Prizes will be awarded. For more information, or to register for the parade, call Tom or Christina at Bear Trap Pavilion at (302) 537-6371.
Fenwick Island will focus on family and fun in kicking off its holiday weekend on Saturday, July 2. The 3rd Annual Fenwick Island Bonfire is set to start at 7:30 p.m. that evening.
Children’s games will commence at that time, with music by Kevin Poole from 9:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Those attending are encouraged to bring their own chairs, refreshments, marshmallows and roasting sticks. The event will wrap up at 11 p.m.