History and hoopla for Dover’s Fourth of July

From left, brothers Kole, Kaden and Kaleb Smith, of Dover, wore matching T-shirts and waved matching flags as they enjoyed last year’s Fourth of July Parade in downtown Dover. This year’s parade, which will start at 6 p.m., will move along State Street, starting at Hazel Road and ending just past The Green. (Delaware State News file photos by Dave Chambers)

From left, brothers Kole, Kaden and Kaleb Smith, of Dover, wore matching T-shirts and waved matching flags as they enjoyed last year’s Fourth of July Parade in downtown Dover. This year’s parade, which will start at 6 p.m., will move along State Street, starting at Hazel Road and ending just past The Green. (Delaware State News file photos by Dave Chambers)

DOVER – For those seeking fun activities for Saturday’s Fourth of July, downtown Dover has an abundance of options.

“The focus always used to be the evening but a few years ago, we decided to start offering more events downtown throughout the day so families can spend the day together and have a lot of fun,” said Gary Patterson, president of the Fourth of July Celebration Committee.

Early in the day, First State Heritage Park will have activities available for the whole family.

Sarah Zimmerman, park superintendent at First State Heritage Park, said the most popular activity every Fourth of July is the scavenger hunt. Clues are located all over downtown in historic sites and buildings. If the hunt is correctly completed, participants win a prize.

From left, First State Heritage Park historic interpreters Chris Hall, Dan Beck, Susan Emory and Dennis Fisher prepare to read the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the Old State House last July 4.

From left, First State Heritage Park historic interpreters Chris Hall, Dan Beck, Susan Emory and Dennis Fisher prepare to read the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the Old State House last July 4.

The starting point and first clue is at the First State Heritage Park’s Welcome Center at 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Participants have between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. to complete the hunt.

One of the more informational offerings is a film, “Thunder and Rain,” depicting Caesar Rodney’s historical ride for independence. It will be shown at the Old State House at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

“It’s an old movie but it’s something the whole family will like and it is the perfect film for the Fourth of July,” Ms. Zimmerman said.

A new addition to this year’s agenda is “Flags on the Moon,” a program at the Public Archives at 1 p.m. celebrating the 46th anniversary of the first lunar landing. Information about all six Apollo missions will be available as will accounts of the crew members.

At 2 p.m., Delaware will participate in an annual tradition with the 13 original colonies, the National Bell Ringing Ceremony. Each of the 13 states will ring their bell 13 times and in Dover, the ringing will take place at the Old State House.

The Fourth of July Parade, sponsored by the American Legion Fox Post No. 2, kicks off downtown at 6 p.m. It starts at the intersection of State and Hazel streets and ends just past The Green.

Milford Community Band’s Smooth Sounds Dance Band brings jazz and big band standards to Legislative Hall starting at 6:45 p.m.

One of the biggest attractions of the Fourth of July in Dover is a concert by the 287th Army Band of the Delaware National Guard starting at 8 p.m.

“It’s always one of the most popular events. Everyone is always really impressed with their performance, especially the finale,” Mr Patterson said.

The 45-member band’s finale is the “1812 Overture,” complete with cannon fire, which serves as a prelude to the conclusion of the festivities, the always popular fireworks display.

Dover’s are expected to begin around 9:15 p.m. and Mr. Patterson hopes this is one of the best displays Dover has ever seen.

“We switched to a new company this year for our fireworks,” he said of Zamebelli Fireworks.

“They’ve done Dover Days for the past two years and both shows were great so we’re expecting another good show this weekend.”

All family-friendly activities on Saturday are free.

“The Fourth of July downtown will in large part be what people have come to expect,” Mr. Patterson said. “But if you haven’t been in a few years, I think you’ll find a lot of new and interesting things we weren’t doing before.”

Saturday’s events are coordinated by the Fourth of July Celebration Committee. For a full schedule of events, visit dover4thofjuly.com.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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