Find your Fourth Fun!

by Josh Whitener

Monroe gears up for annual Fourth extravaganza

MONROE – Fun, festivities and fireworks are in the air as Independence Day approaches, and the city of Monroe is gearing up to celebrate the holiday with its annual July 4th Celebration. The event takes place in Belk-Tonawanda Park and features amusement rides, concessions, live music and, of course, fireworks.

Kicking off the event at 4:30 p.m. are carnival-type rides, inflatable slides and bounce houses and a plethora of concessions, including hot dogs, hamburgers, drinks, snow cones, cotton candy, ice cream, candy apples and funnel cakes. Dance and show band Summer Daze will put on a free concert from 7 to 9:30 p.m., performing a handful of summer Top 40 hits.

The event culminates after the concert with the annual firework show, which Monroe’s Recreation Superintendent Tonya Edwards said should be visible pretty much anywhere in downtown Monroe.

The city has put on the fireworks show and live music for the past 20 years and added the amusement rides and concession stands about eight years ago, Edwards said.

Two years ago, the city decided to add more fireworks to create a bigger show. “Each year, we’ve tried to change up the fireworks show to make something new,” Edwards said.

As always, there’s the chance a downpour could interfere with the festivities, which happened last year. Because of the rain, the rides and live music were cut short, but the fireworks show still took place, thanks to a 30-minute break from the rain at 9:30 p.m.

“They always set (the fireworks) up and then cover them up and do a good job of keeping them dry,” Edwards said. “If it’s not raining when they set them up, and if it’s not raining at 9:30 and the radar looks like we have at least a 30-minute window, we’ll still do the show.”

In the event the fireworks show gets rained out, it will take place July 5 at 9:30 p.m. But everyone is hoping for good weather. “I’ve been here 15 years, and we’ve only been rained out once in 15 years,” Edwards said.

For more information on the Monroe July 4th Celebration, call 704-282-4500 or visit www.monroenc.org.

Waxhaw hosts 23rd annual Independence Day celebration in historic downtown

WAXHAW – For the 23rd year in a row, citizens from Waxhaw and other areas of Union County will travel to the town’s historical downtown area for the annual Celebrate the U.S.A. event.

The celebration kicks off at 10 a.m. with the town’s annual parade. The parade’s theme is “American presidents” and will pay tribute to the nation’s great leaders. Announcers will comment via a sound system as floats pass by, which is a new addition to the parade.

Following the parade, a “Bring Your Own Big Wheels” race will take place in front of the Military Wall of Honor on East North Main Street. Children ages 3 to 8 are invited to burn rubber as onlookers cheer them on.

The celebration continues at 5 p.m., with a “beach party” at the intersection of Waxhaw Parkway and Highway 16. The event will feature concessions, a children’s play area with inflatable slides and bounce houses, face painting, balloon making and live music courtesy of Glen Shelton. Community members also will have the opportunity to donate blood to the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas.

The event concludes with Waxhaw’s fireworks show at 9:30 p.m., featuring a soundtrack of patriotic music. For more information, call 704-843-2195 ext. 226 or email events@waxhaw.com.

Indian Trail kicks off the holiday with annual parade

INDIAN TRAIL – While many towns begin their Fourth of July festivities later in the day, Indian Trail is offering citizens a chance to start celebrating the holiday before the sun climbs high to noon.

The town will kick off its annual July Fourth celebration at 9:30 a.m. at the town hall with inflatable bounce houses, slides and amusement rides. A flag-raising ceremony will be held at 9:45, followed by a watermelon-eating contest at 10:30.

The watermelon-eating contest has been part of the town’s annual Fourth of July celebration for the past several years. Sponsored by Providence Produce, the contest is for kids, tweens, teens and adults who are ready for a challenge. Participants will be broken up into age specific groups.

At 11:30 a.m., the town will host its annual Fourth of July parade, organized by the Indian Trail Lions Club. The parade begins at the intersection of Post Office Drive and Indian Trail Road and ends at the Food Lion at the corner of Indian Trail Road and Old Monroe Road. Parking for the parade is at the town hall.

This year’s grand marshal and the first float of the parade is Metrolina Christian Academy student Greyson McCluskey. Greyson recently won first place in the national “Wouldn’t It Be Cool If…” contest with his “awesome idea,” The Baby Safe Rider.

On April 25 – the day before his 16th birthday – Greyson’s invention was chosen by a panel of judges, including artist will.i.am, as the winner of the “awesome idea” contest sponsored by Time Warner Cable and i.am.FIRST.

Greyson’s Baby Safe Rider was chosen from a pool of more than 1,100 entries.

Inspired by the birth of his cousin Annabelle, The Baby Safe Rider is a device that will work to prevent infant and toddler deaths by detecting conditions that could cause hyperthermia in car seats. Using a combination of heat sensors and GPS technology, the device would warn parents when the temperature is getting too hot and alert law enforcement officers when parents don’t take action.

The parade, which lasts about an hour, will conclude the town’s July Fourth celebration. There is no cost to participate in any of the festivities. For more information, call 704-821-8114.

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