With a long strand of beaches ready to celebrate the biggest holiday of the summer, the Fourth of July, the real question is, how and where is everyone going to celebrate?

In order to continue the festivities as long as possible, events are spread throughout the few days preceding, and the big day itself.

To start the celebration, Millsboro Chamber of Commerce will gather people for Stars & Stripes on June 30. With free admission, the public is welcome to Cupola Park from 6 to 9:30 p.m., for food trucks, vendors, activities, music and a big end to the night, with a fireworks show.

The next day, celebrators can drive on over to South Bethany for the annual Fourth of July Boat Parade. For the fourth year straight, South Bethany will celebrate Independence Day alongside their canals, watching a special parade taking place in the water.

Residents of South Bethany, including former mayor Kathy Janowski, started the tradition four years ago, and it has been a popular event ever since. The Town of South Bethany has sponsored the event the last two years and handed the reins over to the South Bethany Property Owners' Association and Joe Mormondo this year.

To kick off the first day of July, South Bethany home owners can sit on their dock to see 20 or more boats parade through the canals of their town. Visitors are more than welcome to view the parade from the ends of the streets. Those wishing to participate can submit their boat to Joe Conway at jvconway68@gmail.com with their name, South Bethany address and phone number, along with the type and length of boat being used.

Viewers should make sure to stay to the very end, when kayaks and canoes follow the end of the parade!

Participants should also be sure to decorate their boats for the 500 to 1,000 residents and visitors and to possibly win an award for most patriotic, funniest or most original. Prizes have been contributed by McCabe's Gourmet, Just Hooked, Perucci's and Café on 26.

The parade will start at 4:30 p.m. in Jefferson Creek and will use a follow-the-leader style through the canals, using the same course as in years past. Awards and refreshments will be given out at town hall following the event, at 7:30 p.m.

Instead of its traditional date of the last Sunday in June, the Firecracker 5K will be held on July 1 this year. Starting in downtown Bethany, at 7:15 a.m., runners will race to raise money for the Fourth of July Parade Committee and the fireworks display. To register for the race, visit www.bethanybeach5k.com.

Bear Trap Dunes will host its annual Independence Day Parade for the public on Tuesday, July 3, at 9 a.m., in front of the Pavilion. There will be a steel drum band out of Baltimore on hand, “The first band we've had in the parade,” explained Bear Trap's Bethany Beck. Following the parade, a special Kids' Day celebration will take place at the Pavilion from noon to 3 p.m. The Kid's Day event is for residents and renters of Bear Trap Dunes.

Bethany Beach will be hosting the nation's birthday party on July 4, featuring a day of events with a theme of “Happy Birthday, America!”

Bethany's Fourth of July Parade Committee has been meeting since November to put together the event, and at noon on July 4, bands, floats, cyclists and many residents and businesses will join together for their 34th hometown parade.

Bands participating include four marching bands, six bands on trucks, and many returning bands and floats that have become fan favorites, including the horse-drawn carriage provided by Circle C Outfit.

The committee is always looking for new floats to participate in the roughly two-hour parade, from both individuals and businesses. Float registration begins at 9 a.m. on the day of the event and ends at 11 a.m. A simple registration form can be found at the registration table on Central Boulevard.

In order to qualify, the float must be able to fit within a single lane, hit no overhead wires, be able to easily turn corners, be no wider than 8.5 feet and no taller than 13.5 feet. It also can be no longer than 40 feet (60 feet with trailers).

People looking to volunteer can register ahead of time by contacting Julie Malewski or Bruce Frye at (302) 539-8011.

Bethany Beach Fourth of July Parade T-shirts are on sale now, while supplies last, during concerts at the bandstand. The unique shirts are created each year, promoting the theme of the parade and raising funds for it. They're also known for being collectors' items for each year's parade.

Short-sleeved youth shirts cost $10, short-sleeved adult shirts cost $15, and this year, A+ Printing has provided a limited supply of long-sleeved shirts for $25, while supplies last.

To close the night, Bethany will have its own fireworks show, with the exact location to be announced, and party-rock group Love Seed Mama Jump will be playing on the bandstand for the summer concert series. To start off the concert, at 7:15 p.m. on the bandstand will be the announcement of float winners from the day's parade. Prizes are provided by area merchants. (Keep an eye on the Town of Bethany Beach website to find out where they will be firing off their fireworks, to get the best seat.) Upwards of 40,000 people are expected to join in the July 4 celebration with the Bethany community.

Even those who don't head to Bethany Beach for the Fourth this year can expect to see fireworks, as surrounding towns and communities will be firing off their shows, including Dewey at 9 p.m. and downtown Ocean City, Md., on Caroline Street just a half-hour later. Also going off at 9:30 will be the uptown Ocean City fireworks at Northside Park, at 125th Street and the Bay. For those too eager to wait until Wednesday, at 9:15 p.m. on July 1, a fireworks show will be launched south of Rehoboth Avenue in Rehoboth Beach.

By Megan Kotelchuck

Point Intern

Technical Director

Shaun Lambert is an Inuit Eskimo and Athasbascan Indian. He was born and raised in Alaska. Shaun developed the look of the Coastal Point in print and on the web. He has earned multiple MDDC Press Association awards in ad & page design and photography.