CHESTER - Organizers of the Chester Fourth of July celebration like to think of it as a celebration not only of the country's birthday but also of Chester itself.
David Nurmi, chairman of the Chester Celebration Committee, said the Chester Fourth of July celebration has become such a popular event largely because of its host community.
"Every year, people come up to me and say, 'We'll see you next year' or, 'We're looking forward to next year,' " Nurmi said.
Nurmi predicts this year's event will be bigger and better than ever. It's been growing ever since the city's centennial celebration in 2007, he said.
"We're expecting a pretty good-sized crowd even though the Fourth falls in the middle of the week," he said, noting the one-day festival usually attracts about 10,000 people to the city of Chester.
"We welcome people to town. We want people to come to Chester," Nurmi said.
The celebration gets under way at 9 a.m. Wednesday with a 5K Freedom Run that starts on Carolina Avenue, followed by a Duck Dash at 10 a.m. Fire hydrants along Carolina Avenue will be opened for the Duck Dash.
The parade down Carolina Avenue starts at 4 p.m., and the entertainment at Chester City Park starts at 6 p.m. Featured entertainers are Tres Lads, Todd Jones and The Clarks.
The celebration closes at 10 p.m. with a fireworks show sponsored by the Chester Volunteer Fire Department, American Legion Post 121 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6450. The parade will be led by the newly formed American Legion/VFW Honor Guard.
During the day, there will be a car show, a craft show, and food and merchandise vendors along Carolina Avenue.
Nurmi said the festival is such a success each year because of the cooperation between city government and private organizations. Providing essential support are the Chester Park Board, the Chester Police Department, and the Chester Volunteer Fire Department, he said.
"This is a tremendous benefit to the business community of Chester," Nurmi said, "and it's become one of the premier Fourth of July events in the area."
The Oak Glen High School soccer team and other sports teams will assist with cleanup on Thursday.
For more information about the parade and the Duck Dash, contact Sandra Parkins at 304-387-2820.
For more information about the 5K run, contact Lacy Cline at 304-374-0542 or Cara McMahan at 304-670-5723.
Other members of the Chester Celebration Committee are Del Wright, David Wright, Marsha Nurmi, Bill Mackall, Jerry Smith, Todd Jones and Jim Pryor.
(Huba can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)