GLADSTONE - This year Gladstone has made Independence Day into a week-long event in celebration of the city's 125th anniversary.
The line up for this year's Fourth of July parade will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday with the parade starting at 11. "This is the third year that we are sticking with 11 o'clock," said City Manager Darla Falcon.
In the past the parade started at 10, but two years ago the Fourth of July was on a Sunday. "Churches can't manage a 10 o'clock parade so we bumped it to 11," said Falcon. "We got such a good response: 'Please keep it at 11. We need that extra hour in the morning.'"
The parade's grand marshals will be Alger and Mary Strom. In past years the city requested nominations for the honor. "They've been on the list every year," said Falcon.
The city is expecting upwards of 75 floats and groups in the parade, which will travel from the corner of 7th Street and Delta Avenue to Van Cleve Park. Bands, including the Gladstone Marching Band, will also be featured.
Events in the park itself will begin at noon Wednesday. Food vendors, kids games, paintball, inflatables, and a dunk tank will provide family entertainment. The Lions Club will also be operating a beer tent.
Music in the park will be provided near the Lions Club beer tent by the Escanaba German Band from 1 to 2 p.m. and Remnants Barbershop Chorus from 2 to 4 p.m.
Flat Broke Blues Band will be performing on stage in the ball field from 4 to 6 p.m. They will be followed by Feedback, who will be performing '70s, '80s, and '90s music from 7 to 9 p.m.
Weather permitting, there will be a jet fly-over sometime between noon and 4 p.m. "They kind of catch us in between other parades towards the Sault to all the way to Minneapolis, Minn.," said Falcon.
The city's fireworks display will take place at dusk. "If Wednesday we get rained out, it's automatically Friday night," said Falcon.
A special feature of this year's celebration is the AVTT Traveling Vietnam Wall. The 80 percent scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. will be open for viewing in Van Cleve Park from 8 p.m. Tuesday to 8 p.m. on Saturday.
The Wall will be escorted to Gladstone from Island Resort & Casino to Van Cleve Park on Tuesday. The escort will include area law enforcement and the Patriot Guard Riders. The escort will begin at 4 p.m.
Falcon hopes people will line the escort route to show support for the wall and the troops. "If we can get people to line Lincoln Road, Lakeshore Drive in Gladstone, anywhere around that route, I think it would really show," she said. The Wall itself will not be visible during the escort.
Volunteers will begin setting up the Wall 5 p.m. Tuesday. "As of 8 p.m. Tuesday night it will officially be open to the public," said Falcon.
There are no special activities planned at the Wall on the Fourth of July. However, the Wall will be a feature of the park during all of the other activities at the park that day. The wall will also be accessible all day Thursday and in the evening, when South Bound performs as part of the Summer Concert Series from 7-9 p.m.
The first ceremony presented in conjunction with the traveling Wall will be on Friday at 6 p.m. There will be red, white, and blue balloons released and live music. At 7:30 the Carney-Nadeau American Legion will be presenting the POW Table Ceremony. "It symbolizes the one person missing at the table," said Falcon. A flag folding ceremony presented by Gladstone American Legion Post 71 will follow at 7:45, and the Patriot Guard will be holding a Ride of Honor Ceremony at 8 p.m.
Saturday morning at 9:15 a.m. will be the invocation ceremony and guest speakers. Local veterans featured during the invocation will be James Caszatt, Benny Herioux, Bob Mineau, and Master of Ceremonies Michael O'Neil. Music will be provided by Macy Neumeir and Travis DuBord.
A benediction service will be held at 7 p.m. and the wall will be taken down at 8 p.m.