CHESTER - This year's Fourth of July celebration in Chester is shaping up to be bigger than usual because of a confluence of local and state events.
July 4 festivities get under way at 9 a.m. with the 5K Freedom Run and conclude at 10 p.m. with a fireworks show. In between, there's a parade, live entertainment, a Duck Dash and much more.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's the premier event in the Northern Panhandle," said Dan Greathouse, director of the Top of West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It's amazing the amount of work they do to put this on."
This year's Chester celebration is enhanced by the sesquicentennial celebration for the state of West Virginia. The state's 150th anniversary is June 20, also known as West Virginia Day. The theme for the Fourth of July parade is "Celebrating 150 Years of West Virginia Pride."
The July 4 celebration will be preceded and followed by events of local significance - the Chester Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 3 and the Chester All-Class Reunion on July 5 and 6.
Chester Celebration Committee Chairman David Nurmi said last year's Fourth of July event brought 17,000 out-of-town visitors to Chester.
"It meant a great deal of income for the local merchants here," Nurmi said. "That's a lot of dollars coming into town."
Nurmi said the celebration has grown every year since its inception in 2007, when Chester celebrated its centennial. Last year's parade had more than 60 participating units, while a blocked-off Fourth Street held about 25 vendors, he said.
About 250 people participated in last year's 5K run.
To register for the 5K run, which starts at 9 a.m., call Lacey Cline at (304) 374-0542.
The Duck Dash takes place at 10 a.m. on Carolina Avenue. Ducks will be available for sale for $5 starting Monday in Chester City Council chambers.
They will be sold from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
The duck race categories will be ages 0-4, 5-12, 13-adult, and seniors.
A Chester Lions Club car show, at Chester City Park, will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 4. More than 70 cars were entered last year, Nurmi said. To enter a car, call Steve Wilson at (304) 387-2178 or Pete Arner at (304) 387-1288.
Lineup for the parade begins at 3 p.m., and the parade departs at 4 p.m. Anyone wishing to enter the parade should contact Sandi Parkins at (304) 387-2820, ext. 7. Entry forms will be mailed to all previous participants, who are asked to pick up their entry number July 4 at the registration table at the corner of Third Street and Virginia Avenue.
Entertainment at Chester City Park will feature the Clarks and the Joseph Sisters from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
The entertainment and the fireworks show are jointly sponsored by Chester American Legion Post 121, Chester VFW Post 6450 and the Chester Volunteer Fire Department, Nurmi said.
Interested vendors should contact David Nurmi at (304) 479-3581 or Marsha Nurmi at (304) 479-7397.
The hall of fame induction ceremony is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 3 at First Christian Church, 330 Indiana Ave. It is free and open to the public.
The All-Class Reunion, which is held every three years, will have an informal get-together at 6 p.m. July 5 at the Chester VFW. The dinner is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 6 at East Liverpool American Legion Post 374, 1824 Park Way.
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