This weekend, the nation will come together for reflection upon its independence – a time for families and friends to enjoy one another’s company. And there is no shortage of events at which to do so. Fenwick Island’s popular town bonfire will take place at the Dagsboro Street beach on Saturday, July 3, from 6:30 to 10 p.m., while Bethany Beach will once again be hitting their downtown streets with their annual summer parade, fireworks and plenty of entertainment.
Bethany Beach’s fireworks will be set off at dusk on Sunday, July 4, and can be viewed from along the boardwalk and beach, and even some spots inland. The fireworks display will use the same company and shell size as last year’s show, which was warmly recalled by town officials leading up to this year’s show. It will again be shot from the beach at Wellington Parkway.
Then, on Monday, July 5, the town will host the 27th Annual Bethany Beach 4th of July Parade, a summer highlight for thousands of vacationers and locals. (The parade was moved from July 4 due to that date falling on a Sunday, when the Christian Church grounds traditionally used to gather participants will be in use for services.)
“The parade should be wonderful,” noted Gloria Farrar, event coordinator for the Town of Bethany Beach. “We’re looking forward to a great lineup of bands.”
Through the summer evenings, live music has been hitting the bandstand stage on Bethany’s boardwalk, and that will continue on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings this week. Plenty of bands will be around for the parade, as well – 17 entertainment groups, in all, said Philip Rossi, chairman of the volunteer-based parade committee.
“In addition to the shows on the bandstand,” he said, “there will be six marching bands in the parade and seven or eight atop the floats.”
Revelers can stick around after the parade to watch the 26th installment of the annual horseshoe throwing contest, as well as the debut of a blueberry pie-eating contest, with pies provided by Ruthie Parramore of Ruthie’s Bethany Beach Bakery.
In addition to the musical groups and floats, the parade will also feature plenty of walking and bicycling participants, who will be led by U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, a direct descendent of Benjamin Franklin – one of the Founding Fathers of the country.
“Many people don’t realize,” said Rossi, “but Congressman Castle is a [direct] descendent of [Franklin], and we were eager to get him involved because of that. The theme of this year’s parade is the Declaration of Independence.”
In observance of the signing of the Declaration, the document has been put on the back of this year’s parade T-shirts, whose sales have helped fund the parade for years.
“T-shirt sales have been amazing,” said Rossi. “We’ve been selling them at the bandstand, and they will be available through the weekend, as well. And, in many cases, we’ve been selling out. People want to get the T-shirts from each year to remember the parade.” The shirts were again designed by local artist Jennifer E. Carter this year.
Participating bands marching in the parade include the Tidewater Brass Band, the Caesar Rodney Brass Band, Delaware Militia Fife and Drum, The Stirling Pipe Band and the Trilby String Band, a mummers band out of Philadelphia.
Area businesses and families help bring the parade to life with decorated floats, and this year, they’ll be rocking with music from Al Santoro and the Hi-Lighters, the Back Bay Strummers, Southern Delaware School of the Arts’ Steel the Show, the Milford Community Band, the Nautical Sounds, the Philadelphia German Brass Band, the German Ump-Pa-Pa Band and the Paddlewheel Strutters.
Parade-goers can also enjoy the Nur Shrine’s Mini-Corvettes, clowns and choppers, as well as the First State Detachment Marine Corps and an antique carousel organ.
“We’re fortunate to have the 287th Army National Guard band with us,” Farrar said. “They will put on some patriotic marches. It should be great.”
Awards will be given out for the best floats and post-parade contest winners on the bandstand at 7:15 p.m. on Monday, July 5. And the bicycle and walking brigades are always a highlight of the hometown parade.
“We want people to come out and have a good time,” noted Rossi, “but we’re here for the town’s safety, too. All children under the age of 18 have to wear a bicycle helmet if they are riding in town.”
Bike kits will be available for young riders to decorate their bikes with, too.
“The committee is in charge of picking up funds, but, fortunately, the town of Bethany Beach provides all the logistical help we could ask for,” Rossi added. “Without their help, there would be no parade.”
T-shirt sales, last week’s Firecracker 5K and “Cooking for a Cause,” a fund-raising event hosted by DiFebo’s earlier this spring, helped to support the costs of the parade.
“Donations have been down,” said Rossi, “especially in these hard times. So to have events like these really makes a difference. We’ve got a great community, and everyone wants to get involved and be a part of it. The town really pulls together, not just on the day of the parade.”
For more information about the upcoming parade and firework display, visit www.townofbethanybeach.com online.