Time is running out to apply to be either a parade participant or a vendor in this year’s morning Hope Mills Fourth of July Parade and evening Independence Day celebration.
The separate forms for both parade participants and vendors are available on the town website, www.townofhopemills.com, by clicking on the links to Departments, Parks and Recreation and then Special Events. Both applications are due at the parks and recreation offices off Rockfish Road by June 14. The parade and the evening celebration are both on Thursday, July 4.
Meghan Freeman, who is coordinating the parade and the celebration, said both entry forms and the packets that come with them include specific rules about do’s and don’ts for both parade entries and vendors.
Any questions about what works and what doesn’t can be directed to her via her email at email@example.com.
There will be one major change to the traditional parade route. For years, it has started at Hope Mills Middle School on Cameron Road, wound its way down Main Street, then finished up on Rockfish Road near Town Hall and Municipal Park.
For multiple reasons, this year’s parade route will be reversed. Parade entries will assemble near Rockfish Elementary School on Rockfish Road, then the parade will head in reverse back down Rockfish Road, under the railroad trestle and through downtown Hope Mills, ending at Hope Mills Middle School.
Freeman said a major reason for changing the route involved the schedule of Fourth of July events. The parade begins at 10 a.m., and when it ends there is a long delay until 4 p.m., when the celebration begins at Municipal Park.
With the new route, the area around the park will be cleared as soon as the parade has passed. There won’t be a crowd milling around waiting for the 4 p.m. activities to begin, and vendors will have plenty of time to get set up once the parade is over.
Spectators won’t notice another major benefit from the change, but high school bands and other walking units in the parade definitely will. Now that the parade is headed in the opposite direction, people on foot won’t have to walk up two imposing hills. The first hill comes up from the railroad trestle and the second is the gradual incline from Main Street up Rockfish Road to the Town Hall and Municipal Park area.
Freeman said although the bands didn’t complain, they weren’t terribly excited about the old route for that reason.
Freeman said the Fourth of July parade usually draws about 65-70 entries and 30-40 vendors at the park. The annual Christmas parade is usually a bigger draw, she said, with up to 90 entries. It’s not that one is more popular than the other, she said, noting that the season of the year has a lot to do with it.
“Christmas is usually bigger because it’s on Saturday and school is still in,’’ Freeman said. “There are more people here.’’
A long list of rules is included in the form for the parade, but Freeman hit on a few of the bigger ones.
Businesses and organizations taking part in the parade can’t throw candy to the crowd from the floats. There is too much danger of people being injured scrambling for it. Any group that wants to give something out during the parade must actually hand it directly to spectators.
No profanity or alcoholic beverages are allowed on floats.
All parade entries who are mounted on horses have to provide for their own cleanup.
All motorcycle riders in the parade must wear a helmet.
The hours for the Independence Day celebration will be 4-10 p.m. and will include the traditional fireworks show.
Several other activities, aside from the planned vendors, will be held at the celebration at Municipal Park. They include pony rides, a petting zoo, a 28-foot rock-climbing wall, a foam pit and a mechanical shark ride. Freeman said in the past the petting zoo has included a lemur, alpaca, kangaroo, llama and a miniature horse.
She described the foam pit as being similar to soap suds. The mechanical shark is similar to a mechanical bull.
Musical groups scheduled to perform at the celebration include Open Road and the Guy Unger Band.