IRON COUNTY—The Fourth of July will be celebrated next Thursday, July 4, in Iron County with special events planned in Iron River, Alpha and Amasa.
Afghanistan war veterans and their families will get special recognition during Iron River’s Fourth of July parade.
The West Side Veterans Council is dedicating the parade to the Afghanistan vets and families of the local Michigan Army National Guard 1433rd Engineering Unit.
“We encourage everyone in the community to come out and support our local National Guard and their families for their sacrifices,” said an official of the West Side Veterans Council.
Parade registration starts at 8:30 a.m. on the west side of West Iron County High School. All units are asked to use Garfield Street (between the school and Kermit’s Bar) as the main entrance to the parking lot.
Members of the Auxiliary units of American Legion Posts 17 and 21 and VFW Post 3134 will help register parade entries. The parade will form on the high school’s south parking lot.
It steps off at 10 a.m., and goes north on Washington Avenue, down Stambaugh Hill to Genesee Street and then turns west on Genesee through the downtown area to Fifth Avenue, where it disbands.
Officials from the massed veterans organizations will lead the parade. Also expected to take part will be the Michigan Army National Guard, U.S. veterans, Boy and Girl Scout units, antique vehicles, decorated floats, bicycles, area fire departments and local organizations and businesses.
After the parade, veterans riding on the World War II, Korean and Vietnam floats will be dropped off at the Iron County Armory.
The reviewing stand is in the downtown area. Prizes will be awarded to participants in a number of categories, including adult/youth organizations, commercial, organization or group, comic, antique vehicles and tractors, individual horses and saddle clubs.
Along the parade route, West Iron County students will be collecting donations from the crowd to cover the ever-rising cost of the parade and fireworks.
After the parade, volunteers from the West Iron County Fire Department will host children’s games and give out free ice cream outside the fire hall on Ninth Avenue, a few blocks north of U.S. 2.
As daylight fades away, crowds will gather for the annual fireworks show, which starts at about 10 p.m. The West Iron County firemen, led by Chief Alfred Perlongo, launch the fireworks from the north end of Stambaugh Airport, and there are plenty of great places to enjoy the show.
In case of inclement weather, the fireworks show would be delayed until 10 p.m. on July 5.
The West Side Veterans Council pays for the fireworks show. Because of rising costs for fireworks and insurance, the vets need donations from the public to keep the tradition going.
Anyone who wants to donate towards the cost of fireworks should mail it to West Side Veterans Council, P.O. Box 433, Iron River, MI 49935. Donations can also be made to any of the veterans organizations.
In Alpha, a flag-raising ceremony starts the Fourth of July program near the Village Hall at 9 a.m. The Alpha-Mastodon Fire Department raises the flag as the Forest Park Marching Band plays.
The parade starts at 9:30, and all children taking part will win a cash prize. Top prizes go to the best trimmed bikes and best costumes. After the parade, free ice cream cones and Crackerjack is available to everyone, and concessions will be available at the pavilion, located in the park north of the Village Hall. Brats, hot dogs, soda and beer will all be available.
The pavilion will be the site of many events all day, including a coin scramble at 11 a.m., kids races at 1 p.m. (wheelbarrow, sack, three-legged and egg races), and an egg toss for those 12 and over at 3:30. Cash prizes go to the winners.
The winner of the “cruise raffle” will be drawn at 5 p.m. at the pavilion. Tickets are $20 each, and funds raised will be used for the Alpha village and fire department centennials, both taking place in 2014.
Tickets will sold until the drawing. The prize winner will get either a Caribbean cruise, an all-inclusive stay at a Mexican resort or $2,000 in cash. Depending on ticket sales, it could be a 50-50 raffle instead.
During the afternoon, several bands will keep the entertainment going non-stop.
Elsewhere in the village, a pasty sale and pie social will be held at the Alpha Senior Center starting at 9 a.m., and Forest Park’s pom danz team will have a bake sale. The Alpha Museum holds an open house from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
It’s always a busy Fourth of July in Alpha, and the celebration ends with a spectacular fireworks display at dusk, hosted by the Alpha-Mastodon Fire Department’s trained and certified pyrotechnics team.
In Amasa, Fourth of July events start at 9 a.m. with a community hymn sing at Grace United Methodist Church. Later, a rummage sale will be held on the church lawn from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The festivities at the downtown park start at 10 a.m., beginning with the flag-raising ceremony. After that, it’s the children’s parade and games.
At 11:30 a.m., something new is taking place: a duck race. This is a fund-raiser for Amasa’s 125th birthday celebration in 2016.
Lunch will take place at noon at the fire hall, with food, beverages, ice cream and Crackerjack, sponsored by the Amasa Historical Society and the Hematite Township Fire Department.
The annual softball game takes place during the afternoon at the ball field. All are welcome to take part and spend the Fourth in Amasa.