It can be weird when holidays fall during the Monday-through-Friday period when people normally work.
But the fact that the Fourth of July comes on a Saturday this year is expected to provide a big boost in both attractions and attendance for annual festivities in Mount Airy, organizers say.
Like a Roman candle exploding in midair, the list of holiday activities set for next Saturday is bursting with patriotic flavor and good old-fashioned fun. The plans encompass a full day of events, including a parade featuring a World War II hero, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, a pie-eating contest for charity, live music and an evening fireworks display.
Parade gearing up
The day will kick off with the reading of the Declaration of Independence at 10 a.m. in the courtyard of Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.
A parade offering ample displays of red, white and blue is planned afterward, sponsored by the Downtown Business Association under the “Spirit of America’s Hometown” theme.
The procession is scheduled to leave Veterans Memorial Park at 11 a.m. and head along West Lebanon Street and through the central business district.
Parade organizers have selected Bud Liebenow, a World War II veteran who lives in Mount Airy, as honorary grand marshal for the 2015 event.
Liebenow, who stays active despite being in his mid-90s, was a big hit during the city’s annual Memorial Day observance when he served as keynote speaker.
However, the decision had been made to have Liebenow as parade grand marshal “even before the city had him speak on Memorial Day,” said Jennie Lowry of the Downtown Business Association.
“He’s such an interesting person,” Lowry said of the retired lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy and his distinguished service record.
Liebenow, a native of Fredericksburg, Virginia, who moved to Mount Airy in 2006 with his wife Lucy, is best-known as the skipper of PT-157, a patrol torpedo boat that rescued the crew of PT-109 which included John F. Kennedy.
“It’s an honor to have Liebenow serving as grand marshal,” one parade organizer observed.
Later in the war, Liebenow would play a key role in the D-Day invasion, both before and during that historic engagement which set the stage for Germany’s defeat.
“It’s just a very intriguing story,” Lowry said of the local veteran’s exploits.
Since the holiday falls on Saturday, organizers are expecting an even better showing of parade applicants as well as spectators for the event.
DBA representatives want the public to know that it’s not too late for entries to sign up to participate in this year’s parade. Applications are available at the Mount Airy Visitors Center as well as online at www.mountairydowntown.org, and will be accepted until Friday.
All entries are encouraged to be patriotic in nature and conform to the theme “The Spirit of America’s Hometown.” The entry fee is waived for all non-profit groups, and the fee for business entries is $50.
“All groups are welcome to participate,” Lowry said.
Complete parade coverage will begin shortly before 11 a.m. on WSYD-AM 1300/Granite City Gold, for the benefit of those unable to attend in person.
Immediately after the parade, the Third-Annual Miss Angel’s Pie Eating Contest benefiting the Shepherd’s House, a local homeless shelter, will take place on Franklin Street.
The contest is open to both children and adults.
Those interested in participating are encouraged to call Miss Angel’s to register at 336-786-1537.
Prizes and “bragging rights” await the winners.
The Shepherd’s House also will be selling hot dogs to benefit the homeless shelter.
Many downtown businesses are scheduled to remain open throughout the holiday events, and vendor applications will be taken until Wednesday, which are available online at www.mountairydowntown.org.
After the downtown festivities, folks are encouraged to head to Veterans Memorial Park to get a good seat for a Fourth of July celebration and the fireworks presentation, once again sponsored by the Sunrise Rotary Club and Mount Airy Rotary Club.
The park will be open Saturday, with a band providing live music from the bandstand starting around 6:30 p.m. and continuing until the fireworks show begins at dark. An American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars concession stand is to be available for visitors.
Officials of the combined Rotary clubs say they are proud to provide this celebration for residents of Mount Airy and surrounding areas and invite everyone to come out and enjoy the music and fireworks.
There is no charge for attending, but club members will be collecting monetary donations at the park entrance and Mount Airy High School parking lot. All donations will go to Veterans in Distress and the two local food banks.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.