After 40 years of LibertyFest celebrations, organizers are once again looking to have this year’s Fourth of July festivities go out with a bang.
And though many area businesses will close for the holiday, the city will stay hopping with the three cornerstone festival attractions, which in part make the festival one of CNN and USA Today’s “Top 10 July 4th Festivals in the United States.”
Things start at 9 a.m. Wednesday when the annual LibertyFest Parade makes its 1.5-mile trek through the city. The parade begins on Ayers Street at University Drive and goes west to Broadway past the reviewing stand where judges will choose the parade’s best from five categories — doling out $1,500 in prize money and awards. Paraders will continue east on Second Street and then return north on University Drive to conclude the parade at its starting point.
The free parade will feature 106 attractions, said event Co-Chairman Jerry James. Jerry and his brother Charles share this year’s chairmanship.
Jerry said eight of the floats have been built professionally from outside of Edmond, coming from Independence, Mo.
“Probably a third of our entries are beyond the Oklahoma City area,” James said. “Two-thirds are in the Edmond area.”
As many as 50,000 people are expected to crowd Edmond’s streets to see this moving show. About 2,000 people work on or in the parade, James said.
“It’s something we enjoy doing,” said James, who has been involved in the parade since 1984.
Parade Grand Marshall is Oren Lee Peters, 91, of Edmond. Peters is a World War II and Korea veteran who was inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame in 2011.
The Boy Scouts of America will carry their giant 50-by-76-foot American flag through the route as well, James said.
Also special this year are the Girl Scouts of America, who are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the organization this year. More than 150 girls will be outfitted in specially-made LibertyFest Parade costumes Wednesday, said Jama Baskin of troop 3230.
As the day wears on, so do the holiday activities. From 6:30-9:30 p.m., the University of Central Oklahoma campus, 100 N. University Drive, will be overrun with people at ParkFest.
About 6,000 people are expected to attend and enjoy the carnival games, rides, clowns, temporary tattooing and hair painting for the patriotic holiday. A DJ will also be out booming music for those with a little boogie.
“You will be out there dancing with him and doing all kinds of little dances,” said Co-Chair Pat Goodin.
People can purchase barbecue and the like from vendors, and Goodin added that the 120 watermelons have been donated by Edmond’s Uptown Grocery for people to enjoy for free.
Goodin said no ice chests or dogs are allowed during the events.
Just as people get full and the sun dips down, then the fireworks begin at 10 p.m. at UCO. Robert Meinders, who is chairman of the fireworks show, said it’s going to be quite a production.
“It’s the biggest part of our celebration,” he said.
The 30-minute show will punctuate a busy festival with thousands of pyrotechnics shooting off.
Goodin said viewers are so close to the show that they nearly have to lay on their backs to watch.
“Some of the best viewing is about a half a mile away,” commented Meinders.
All the boom comes with a tune as well. Watchers can turn their radios to KCSC, 90.1 FM, to hear music synchronized with the visual show.
More information on festivities for the 40th LibertyFest can be found at www.libertyfest.org or by calling 340-2527.
• Pre and Post Parade Food in Edmond
Those wanting a free breakfast or lunch before Edmond’s Fourth of July Parade Wednesday can go to the Kivlehen House at 525 N. Jackson St.
From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Keller Williams agent Mariana Lloyd will provide hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches and cold lemonade for paradegoers. This is the fifth year Lloyd has hosted this.
More information can be found by contacting Lloyd at 285-7000.
Other local fireworks shows
• Red, White & Boom
The 2012 version of this annual event will be held for the first time at the State Fair Park entertainment plaza, at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday with the OKC Philharmonic presenting Patriotic Pops. Joel Levine will conduct the concert and Susan Powell is the featured soloist. Bring lawn chairs and enjoy concessions as well. Fireworks will follow the show. Admission is free, as is parking.
• July Fourth Fireworks at Frontier City.
All day general admission tickets are $19.99 each when purchased online at frontiercity.com for Tuesday through Thursday. The park will shoot off fireworks July 4 in its Fireworks Spectacular. The show begins at 9:15 p.m. Wednesday and is free with park admission. Frontier City is at 11501 N. I-35 Service Road in Oklahoma City. For more information call 478-2140.
• Bricktown Fireworks Extravaganza
The annual downtown Fourth of July event will be at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, and can be viewed from anywhere in Bricktown — choose one of the many patios or bring lawn chairs and blankets. The event is free, and there will be free parking beginning at 7 p.m. in the RedHawks Parking Lot east of the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark
• Bethany’s Freedom Festival
The 54th version of Bethany’s Freedom Festival takes place on Wednesday, with the fireworks displays to begin about 9:55 p.m. The Bethany Freedom Festival takes place at Eldon Lyon Park in Bethany, just south of N.W. 39th Expressway between Council and Rockwell. Parking is available on the north end of the park on N.W. 39th Expressway. Admission is free, but carnival ride tickets and games are an additional fee.
• Yukon’s Freedom Fest
Fireworks will go off at 10 p.m. Wednesday at Yukon City Park, 2200 S. Holly, following a day full of activities. Admission to all Freedom Fest events is free.