A sluggish economy might bode well for Dublin's Independence Day celebration.

A sluggish economy might bode well for Dublin's Independence Day celebration.

City officials expect the July 4 events to attract more than 20,000 people and top last year's record-breaking crowds.

"Instead of spending a lot of money to travel, people are discovering what's in their own backyards," community relations specialist Mary Jo DiSalvo said in explaining the city's prognostication.

Taking day trips or "staycations" are more common this year, said Scott Dring, executive director of the Dublin Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"I wouldn't say people aren't traveling," he said. "All our research and information show us that people are traveling differently this year. They're taking one-tank trips and staying closer to home."

The bureau's wild and wet summer vacation-package sales are up 76 percent compared to last year. Similarly, the bureau's golf-package sales are up 20 percent, Dring said.

City officials hope this year's travel trend brings people to Dublin to celebrate the Fourth of July.

"I'm looking forward to seeing families enjoying and entire day together from start to finish," DiSalvo said. "What's more all-American than starting a day with a fishing derby and ending it with fireworks?"

A variety of events including a fishing derby, parade, canine Frisbee championship and special musical performances will be held to keep people of all ages entertained during the holiday.

The Independence Day celebration will kick off at 8 a.m. with the 24th annual Sherm Sheldon fishing derby at the Dublin Community Recreation Center, 5600 Post Road.

The competition is free, but participants should bring their own pole and bait.

The annual parade will begin at 11 a.m. and last about and hour, winding through town from Metro Place North, off Frantz Road, through Historic Dublin.

More than 100 floats will line the parade route this year, the highest participation the city has seen, DiSalvo said.

Children 13 and younger can participate in the parade with the bike brigade. Children should show their patriotic colors by decorating their bicycles with red, white and blue balloons, flags and streamers.

While waiting for the parade to begin or the evening entertainment, people can attend the first Blarney in the Alley, organized by Blarney House Charities.

The family-oriented street festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Darby Alley in Historic Dublin.

More than a dozen booths will line the street, including space reserved by the Sisters Sweet Shoppe, the Historic Dublin Business Association and a balloon artist. Also committed are a henna tattoo artist, a jewelry maker, a photographer, a place for people to make sand art and a dunk tank.

Proceeds from Blarney in the Alley will be donated to the Miracle League of Central Ohio, which offers children with disabilities the chance to play baseball with the help of volunteer buddies. The league began its third season this spring.

The Dublin Coffman High School stadium, 6780 Coffman Road, will host the Skyhoundz Hyperflite Canine Frisbee Disc championship at 5 p.m.

This year's event theme, "Red, White and Rewind," is appropriate considering the evening's musical lineup.

Gates to the stadium open at 4:30 p.m., with the Reaganomics taking stage at 4:45 p.m., followed by Taylor Dayne at 6:15 p.m. and Rick Springfield at 8:15 p.m.

The grand-finale fireworks display, which will be simulcast on 94.7 FM, will start at 9:50 p.m.

"We've been told by so many guests they prefer these fireworks to any other show," DiSalvo said. "I sincerely do believe they feel that way."

In the event of a rainout, the $100,000 worth of fireworks will be saved and set off during the Dublin Irish Festival in August.

The 388 tables on the field for the show sold out months ago, but free seating is available in the bleachers at the stadium.

An area for children featuring rides, face painting and temporary tattoos will be provided at the stadium in the evening.

For more information go to www.dublin.oh.us or www.blarneyinthealley.com.

bdunlap@

thisweeknews.com