Dover looks to cap Fourth of July with a bang

DOVER — The city of Dover has been dogged with misfortune when it comes to capping its’ Fourth of July celebration with a brilliant and booming fireworks display the past couple of years.

Two years ago, a fireworks crew experienced a mishap that caused the grand finale chain of fireworks shells to go off just before the show was set to start, which sent the entire show off course.

Then last year, thunderstorms forced the cancellation of the Fourth of July fireworks as they were delayed until Labor Day weekend.

Greg Patterson, president of Dover’s Fourth of July Committee, has his fingers crossed that things will get back to normal for tonight’s celebration on Legislative Mall.

“The Fourth of July is, to me, one of the signature events in Dover,” Mr. Patterson said. “Celebrating Independence Day in downtown Dover means you are in the capital of one of the 13 original colonies, surrounded by buildings that were standing when the Declaration of Independence was written and the spot where Delaware ratified the Constitution.”

Tonight’s fireworks display is scheduled to begin at dusk, right around 9:20 p.m., and the show will last about 20 minutes long. The event is funded by private donations from local businesses, organizations and citizens.

The pyrotechnics will be accompanied by selections from the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” a hip-hop musical about founding father Alexander Hamilton.

The National Weather Service said there is a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before midnight.

If tonight’s fireworks do happen to get canceled, the Fourth of July Committee has scheduled a rain date of Saturday. The committee said that in the past, the fireworks have gone off early or late to avoid thunderstorms.

There will be Fourth of July updates on dover4thofjuly.com, on the city of Dover’s Facebook page and on the committee’s recorded phone line at 674-7579.

Mr. Patterson noted that the fireworks, always the main attraction, will be joined by a host of other historic-related events scattered around Legislative Mall and The Green throughout the day.

There will be activities for kids on Legislative Mall starting at 5 p.m. prior to a patriotic parade sponsored by the American Legion Walter L. Post #2 at 6 p.m. down State Street.

The Milford Community Band will play swing and dance music at 6:45 p.m. before the 287th Army Band of the Delaware National Guard plays its annual concert of patriotic and other favorites starting at 8 p.m.

“The tours and activities at the First State Heritage Park sites and the Biggs Museum can connect people to the history of the city, state and country,” he said. “The C-17 flyover from Dover Air Force Base and the concert by the Delaware National Guard band represent our military and their role in our community.

“And the American Legion parade, the food, music and activities mean people are gathering to celebrate in a place where people of Dover have gathered for more than 240 years.”

At 9:20 p.m. it will be time to look to the skies — and hopefully not because thunderstorms are in the area.

In addition to the Dover July 4th festivities, the following communities will hold events today:

• Bethany Beach:

Parade begins at noon at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Garfield Parkway.

“Art Thou Smarter than a Fifth Grader in Ben Franklin Trivia” at 2:30 on the bandstand.

Love Seed Mama Jump concert on the bandstand at 7:30 p.m. Fireworks at dusk.

• Dewey Beach:

Fireworks at Northbeach Restaurant, McKinley Street on the Bay, 9 p.m.

• Laurel:

Prayer Breakfast at Abbott’s on Broadcreek at 8 p.m.

Chain Break will performs on Market Square Park Bandstand at 5 p.m.; Little Miss Independence Pageant at 6 p.m.; “Let Freedom Ring” Parade at 7 p.m.; Chain Break continues to perform at 8 p.m.

Fireworks around 9:25 p.m.

• Lewes:

Old-fashioned games for children on Second Street beginning at 9 a.m.

Following the games, the Lewes Independence Day Boat Parade will wind its way down the Lewes-Rehoboth canal from the Roosevelt Inlet to Fisherman’s Wharf.
The parade entrants will leave from Roosevelt Inlet across from the Coast Guard Station at 1:30 p.m. and reach the judges’ reviewing stand at Fisherman’s Wharf at approximately 2. At the conclusion of the parade, all boat entrants are invited to attend the Awards Ceremony on the deck of the Lightship Overfalls at 3:30 pm.

Later in the afternoon, the Doo-Dah Parade will begin around 5 on its regular route toward town on Kings Highway, Savannah Road and then onto Second Street.

• Milton:

A family-friendly patriotic celebration in Milton Memorial Park from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

A highlight of the festivities is the bike decorating contest and bike parade at 11 a.m. Grand prizes of two bikes will be awarded to the winners – one each to the best boy and girl entries.

Other festivities include a dunk tank, a cake walk and free games and activities for children. Children will enjoy train rides, relay and sack races and a variety of competitions including the popular “Chess Tent” where children can develop their chess skills and play matches.

The “Milton’s Best” Pie Baking Contest has three competitive categories – professional, amateur, and children 12 and under.

Musical entertainment at the gazebo will feature Walt Hetfield known for his Buddy Holly Tribute. His group will perform “Oh Boy!” A Tribute to America.
Food vendors will also be on hand.

• Smyrna:

Parade will start at 9:30 a.m., at St. Polycarp Church on South Street.

Fireworks will be held at dusk on Duck Creek Parkway, Smyrna, with parking available at Smyrna High and Smyrna Middle schools.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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