Kenai gears up for annual Fourth of July celebration

Posted: Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Floats, food and fire trucks will make for fun family festivities this Fourth of July in Kenai on Friday.

This year's Independence Day celebration, organized by the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and local volunteers, offers old favorites and new additions to the events line-up.

"It's pretty much a traditional, small-town, home-spun Fourth of July," said Colleen Canady, director of the Kenai Chamber of Commerce.

The festivities begin at 8 a.m. with the Rotary Club's breakfast. The public is welcome to enjoy eggs, sausage, pancakes and biscuits and gravy under the pavilion at the Kenai Green Strip Park by the ball fields on Main Street Loop.

Fueled by a warm meal, participants can gather along Main Street Loop to watch the parade at 11 a.m. Line-up for floats is at 10 a.m. on Trading Bay. All parade entries must register on Bidarka Street prior to the parade start.

This year's parade theme is "Let Freedom Ring" and will be led by grand marshals Bob and Bonnie Peterkin, who were the recipients of the chamber's Log Cabin award at this year's Town and Gown ceremony.

During the parade, Kenai police will close off First Avenue from Main Street Loop to Corral and Main Street Loop from the Kenai Spur Highway to First Avenue, so drivers should plan accordingly.

The parade promises to be about the same size as last year's, with 56 entrants signed up by last week. Floats and other parade participants have had to be a little more creative this year coming up with decorations in the traditional colors, however.

"We've had trouble getting red, white and blue things, it's been a real patriot year," Canady said.

After the parade, a host of events will take place on the Green Strip Park for adults and children. Vendor booths will open at 10 a.m., and stay open until the evening.

Canady said there were more than 20 booth operators signed up as of last week, including retailers of jewelry, furs and other merchandise and a wide selection of food.

"There's going to be plenty to eat, everything from barbecue on a stick, cotton candy and hot dogs to pig ears and espresso and everything in between," she said.

Live music will start at 12:30 p.m. The performance schedule is Melissa Smith at 12:30 p.m., Tuff-E-Nuff at 1 p.m., Hype Youth Group at 2 p.m., Southern Comfort at 3 p.m. and Joe Ray and Katie Skrha at 4 p.m.

There will be plenty of free activities for kids to take part in, starting with water games run by firefighters at 1 p.m. (parents should make sure kids bring towels). A scavenger hunt for ages 7 through 12 will start at 1:30 p.m., and there will be free face painting throughout the day.

For those who didn't fill up at breakfast or at vendor booths, there will be a hot dog eating contest at 2 p.m. and a pie eating contest at 2:30 p.m., both for all ages.

At 3 p.m., the Rotary Club will hold a "Lure of the Kenai" contest. Club members have been selling tickets for the event around town. A ticket buys participants a fishing lure (without the hook), which will be dropped from a helicopter at the park. Whichever lure comes closest to the designated target will win $1,250. Second prize is $500, third is $250, and there will be 20 winners of $25 each.

Following the lure drop, the parade winners will be announced at 3:30 p.m. In past years the winners were announced later in the week, but organizers are hoping having the announcement the same day as the parade will help entice people to make their Fourth of July celebration a day-long event, rather than just coming out for the parade.

A marshmallow "Chubby bun-ny" eating contest will be held at 3:45 p.m., and the music and vendors will continue after that.

"It just promises to be a fun day," Canady said. "We're trying to keep people in the park with the activities. There's no reason to go home early or go home hungry."

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