Fireworks and fun

Area’s Independence Day bash begins July 3


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Fireworks explode over Eagle River during the 2012 Eagle River Lions Fireworks Show. This year’s annual Independence Day celebration begins at 6 p.m. July 3 at Lions Park with live entertainment, food, games a beer garden and more. The fireworks show begins at midnight.

STAR FILE PHOTO

The first — and oldest — of two big area parades will again cap two days of Independence Day revelry in Chugiak-Eagle River.

“It’s a go out at the fire station,” said Finis Shelden, who is helping organize this year’s July 3 Celebration.

The 43rd Annual Chugiak Fourth of July Parade, which is sponsored by the Chugiak Area Business Association, the Eagle River Lions Club and the Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department, begins at 2 p.m. on July 4 at the department’s Latimer Hall on the Old Glenn Highway.

Shelden said individuals or businesses wishing to participate in the parade need to be at the fire station by 1 p.m.

“We’ll get you in the parade somehow,” he said.

Shelden said entering a float in the 43rd annual parade is a heck of a bargain.

“There’s no charge at all to become a part of the parade,” he said.

Shelden said the parade will follow its traditional route to the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center, and prizes will be awarded in several categories. The Grand Marshall is MSG (Ret.) William “Top” Dill, the longtime NJROTC instructor at Chugiak High.

The parade is the grand finale, but the biggest bang of the weekend is likely to be the annual fireworks show at Eagle River Lions Park. Shelden said thousands of people will gather at and near the park at Mile 1.5 Eagle River Road for an evening of fun and fireworks.

The midnight show usually lasts 15-20 minutes, but the party begins much sooner.

Shelden said the fun begins at 6 p.m. on July 3 on the upper baseball fields at the park. Shelden said the celebration will feature live music, a beer garden, kids games, a raffle and more.

“And everything pretty much is free,” Shelden said.

Event organizers say parking at Lions Park is limited for the July 3 event, and parking is not allowed on Eagle River Road. Also, no pets are allowed, there’s no alcohol outside the beer garden and people may not go on the lower fields from where the fireworks will be set off.

For more information about the parade, call Nancy at 301-4113 or Arleen at 250-4077.

While the annual July 3-4 events typically run the same every year, one thing will be different. Although he’s had a big hand in organizing the events, Shelden himself will be visiting Europe during the festivities. That fact wasn’t lost on Rep. Bill Stoltze during Stoltze’s remarks to the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber on June 19.

“I don’t know if there’s a more patriotic member of this community then Finis,” Stoltze said of the longtime community advocate.

Shelden promised to return to Chugiak-Eagle River in time to support the Bear Paw Festival by running in the Slippery Salmon Olympics.

“I’ll be back for that,” he said with a grin.

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