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County’s Fourth of July celebrations Thursday

IRON RIVER—A mid-week celebration of Independence Day is on tap for next week, with July 4 falling on this Thursday.
    No matter what the day, full-fledged celebrations of the nation’s 243rd birthday are being planned in Iron River, Alpha and Amasa.
    Iron River
    Events in Iron River are coordinated by the West Side Veterans Council and will start with a parade at 10 a.m.
    The parade starts at the West Iron County High School parking lot, continues north on Washington Street to Genesee Street, then turns west at Genesee and continues west to Seventh Avenue, where it breaks up.
    The parade will be led by an Honor Guard, and Art Aregoni is the parade marshal. A flyover by World War II-era airplanes will mark the start of the parade.
    Registration starts at 8 a.m. at the back of the high school building near the airport. The theme of this year’s parade is “patriotic,” with participants encouraged to “show your pride in the red, white and blue.”
    All veterans are asked to report to the staging area at the high school by 9:30 a.m. to ride on their designated floats.
    This year, parade categories have been revised and changed. They are:
    --Adult organization, nonprofit organizations, municipalities (fire departments, towns, chambers).
    --Commercial/industrial, youth organizations, horses (individuals, groups).
    --Non-motorized decorated bikes (boys, girls).
    --Farm tractors, comic (kids, adults).
    --Classic and antique vehicles, adult motorized recreational vehicles and reunions (family, class).
    Premiums will be paid for the first three places in each category. The top decorated bikes will get $30, $20 and $10. All other categories get prizes of $50, $30 and $20.
    For safety reasons, non-motorized decorated bikes will join the parade route at the bottom of Stambaugh Hill. However, all bikes must be registered first at the high school so they can get entry numbers. All horses in the parade must have current Coggins tests, which must be presented at registration.
    After the parade, the West Iron County Fire Department will host children’s races outside the fire hall on Ninth Avenue. There also is a watermelon eating contest, and the firefighters will be giving away ice cream bars to everyone.
    As daylight fades away, crowds will gather for the annual fireworks display, which starts at about 10 p.m. The West Iron County firemen launch the fireworks from the
 north end of Stambaugh Airport, and there are plenty of great places to enjoy the show.
    The West Side Veterans Council, which organizes the events, thanks all individuals and businesses for their continued support of its community programs.     
    Mastodon Township and the village of Alpha start the Independence Day celebration at 9 a.m. when the flag is raised in the village circle.
    That will be followed by the parade at 9:30. After that, ice cream and Crackerjack will be served.
    Activity resumes at 4 p.m. when a picnic starts at the Alpha tennis courts and registration for several contests begins. The picnic and contests are free of charge.
    Carry-ins are welcome, and refreshments will be available on the grounds. The Curious Pig will hold a pig roast, and Mastodon Township and the village of Alpha will provide snacks and drinks.
    At 4:30, the pie-eating contest begins, with two categories: adult and youth (17 and under).
    At 5 p.m., it’s time for the kids’ games: coin scramble (ages 8-under and 9-14), water balloon toss (all ages) and three-legged race (all ages).
    At 5:30, power wheel/lawnmower races will begin, in two age classes: 10-under and 11-16. Also at 5:30, the Billy Jack Band will start providing live music.
    The Fourth of July celebration will be in full swing by then, and various raffles will be held during the evening. At dusk, the Alpha-Mastodon Fire Department will hold its night parade, leading up to the fireworks show at dark.
    Amasa’s Fourth of July celebration will mark the debut of improvements made over the last year at Joe Mechon Park: a new pavilion, new tennis courts and new playground equipment.
    The day starts at 9 a.m. with a hymn sing at Grace United Methodist Church. After that, a community welcome and strawberry social takes place at the fire station and town hall.
    Activities move to Joe Mechon Park at 10 a.m. for a flag raising, children’s games and kiddie parade. After those events end, food, beverages, ice cream and Crackerjack will be available at the fire hall, sponsored by the Amasa-Hematite Township Fire Department and the Amasa Fireflies.
    At 2 p.m., the Amasa Historical Society will select the winners of its annual raffle, and cotton candy will be available at the museum. At the same time, the community softball game starts at the Amasa ballfield.