Fireworks, floats for fun-filled Fourth

Annual parade, festivities are local traditions


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The color guard leads the way at the beginning of the 41st Annual Chugiak Fourth of July Parade on Monday, July 4, 2011. This year’s parade follows the same route from Latimer Hall along the Old Glenn Highway to the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center.

MATT TUNSETH

It’s time to celebrate!

Chugiak-Eagle River’s annual midsummer bash begins Tuesday, July 3 with one of the community’s largest events, the annual Eagle River Lions July 3 Celebration and fireworks show. The next day, the Chugiak Fourth of July Parade – this year marks its 42nd running – will follow the exact route the original one did, beginning at Latimer Hall and winding to the old elementary school through the heart of downtown Chugiak.

“The patriotic spirit should be alive and well,” said Eagle River Lions president Finis Shelden, one of the parade organizers.

 

The parade, which is sponsored by the Chugiak Area Business Association, the Eagle River Lions Club and the Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department, is set to begin at 2 p.m. Anyone wishing to participate must show up to register at the fire station by 1 p.m.

Shelden said the parade will follow its traditional route, and prizes will be awarded in several categories. And, of course, there will be plenty of roadside goodies.

“They’ll be throwing out candy like they always do,” he said.

Following the conclusion of the parade, Shelden said people can gather at the end of the route, where refreshments will be available.

The parade will be the culmination of an Independence Day celebration expected to draw thousands of people into Chugiak and Eagle River for a range of activities.

Though the parade will be the grand finale, the biggest draw of the weekend is likely to be the annual fireworks show at Eagle River Lions Park. Shelden said more than 6,000 people are likely to gather near the park, which is located at Mile 1.5 Eagle River Road.

“We’ve got clowns, kids games, a beer garden with live music,” Shelden said.

 

Shelden said the show will likely last 15-20 minutes and begins promptly at midnight.

The late-night fireworks will wrap up an evening of entertainment that begins at 6 p.m. when the event begins. Shelden said live music will be performed on both a main stage and in the beer garden, with the USAF Band of the Pacific, the Alaska Celtic Pipes/Drums band, T.J. the D.J., Eric Braendel, Johnny Wade and the John Hilborn Band all set to make appearances.

The night’s events will also include skydivers and a flyover from U.S. Air Force jets from nearby Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

“It’s going to be a great time,” he said.

And – just like it’s been for the past 40 years – admission to both events is free.

Sponsors for this year’s bash include the Chugiak, Eagle River and Sleeping Lady Mtn. Lions; Chugiak Area Business Assn.; Eagle River Elks; BP Alaska; Eagle River VFW; ConocoPhillips; Sourdough Trucking and Rep. Bill Stoltze.

 

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com

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