For the first time since 2007, the Fourth of July won’t fall on a weekend or a weekend-lengthening Friday or Monday. This year’s Fourth is right in the middle of the week on Wednesday, but Champaign-Urbana is still celebrating the 236th birthday for the U.S. just like any other year.
Independence Day will begin with a healthy dose of physical exercise and competition. The 19th annual 5K run/walk starts at 11:05 a.m. near Assembly Hall, runs along Florida and Lincoln avenues and back before finishing where it started. Registration costs $20 now that it is after June 27, but this includes a T-shirt plus water, sports drinks and fruit after the race. There is also a youth run that begins at 10:30 a.m.
Just after 1 p.m., the 63rd annual Champaign County Freedom Celebration parade will depart from First Street and Florida Avenue, where it will head east before turning north onto Lincoln Avenue and finish when it reaches California Avenue. The theme for this year’s parade is “Celebrating Our Youth.” Fittingly, the Girl Scouts will act as the parade’s grand marshal while also celebrating their own 100-year anniversary.
An evening show at Dodds Park near Parkland College will begin at 5 p.m. with the local Tons O’ Fun Band. Children will have the option of instead living it up in a bounce house, which is always the better of two options no matter what the alternative may be. Just after the band leaves the stage around 9 p.m., there will be the singing of the National Anthem, the playing of “Taps” and a color guard will retire the flag.
Fireworks will begin shortly after, around 9:15 p.m. There is a 16-song soundtrack that will be played from the stage after the band has finished. It will also be broadcast on 93.5 and 95.3 FM.
And is this soundtrack ever a winner. It has classics like “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa, the befuddling mention of the British with “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 and, best of all, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” by true American Toby Keith. It can be difficult trying to explain American culture to international students, especially when the question of why it is acceptable for an American to put his or her boot in so many asses inevitably arises. ‘Cause it’s the American way, that’s why.
There will still be time in between all of these activities to enjoy the holiday and a day off work by getting into heated political debates about the upcoming presidential election, discussing the state of the economy or ignoring anything else heavy, except for another helping of barbecue.