Heath's 13th annual Star Spangled Celebration on July 2 is a community event that provides entertainment for people of all ages while supporting local nonprofit organizations.

Heath's 13th annual Star Spangled Celebration on July 2 is a community event that provides entertainment for people of all ages while supporting local nonprofit organizations.

"Our goal is that money generated from the event goes back into the community," event co-chair Debra Groff said.

Groff said groups such as Heath Sertoma, Heath Girl Scout troops, Heath High School band boosters, Heath Lions Club, Heath Kiwanis Club and 4-H clubs all participate, providing food, refreshments and other entertainment. All proceeds from sales during the event benefit the groups that provided the service.

"We try to keep the not-for-profit groups keep their pricing for a family budget," Groff said.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday. Groff said organizers plan events to provide entertainment for all ages. This year's event features a new headlining band, Sticks and Stones, a local duo that perform hits from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

"We feel very fortunate to get them," Groff said. "It's something new for the event."

Sticks and Stones will perform from 8 to 10 p.m. Prior to that, a local color guard will perform "Star-Spangled Banner" at 5:45 p.m., and Kyle Earley will perform from 7 to 8 p.m. The Spare Change Barbershop Quartet also is scheduled to perform.

The event is held at Geller Park, at the end of Cynthia Street in Heath. Waugh said the stage has been moved this year to give the celebration a new look.

The park grounds will be filled with activities, including inflatables provided by Sertoma, Noah the mathematical dog, Patti's animals, demonstrations by the Heath police and fire departments, Huey the Helicopter and the Tumble Bus.

Groff said the event also attracted the Columbus Blue Jackets National Hockey League team and representatives of the Columbus Crew Major League Soccer team for the second year in a row. She said the Blue Jackets, who made it to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time this season, take their team to very few places outside Franklin County but Heath is one of their stops.

Another new addition this year is the American Red Cross blood drive, which will be held from 1 to 7 p.m. at the park. Groff said she had heard the Red Cross was in need of donors and thought maybe some of the 8,000 to 10,000 people who attend could help. She said people could schedule an appointment by calling 1-800-GIVE-LIFE, or just go to the booth.

Fireworks will begin at 10 p.m. Groff said the park is the best viewing spot, but the fireworks could be seen from many places around town. She said she's always amazed at how many people park their cars in various places in the city to watch.

"I didn't think the city had that many people in it," she said.

Waugh said the city might have a few more viewers this year as Newark canceled its fireworks display.

Newark Mayor Bob Diebold said the city canceled because of financial issues.

Waugh said he was surprised Heath was able to raise its fireworks funds through donations again this year.

"I think we're within a thousand dollars of being 100-percent funded by donations," he said early last week.

The city sponsors the event, but the $11,000 needed to pay Melrose Pyrotechnics is raised through a committee of volunteers.

Groff said the 12-member committee spends a lot of time planning the celebration.

She said she also was surprised people were generous enough to help with this year's event, given the state of the economy.

"I think that says a lot about the event and the community when people will support this despite the current economic conditions," Groff said.

Waugh agreed, saying the event is important to the Heath community.

"It's a really, really big deal for us," he said.

In addition to Heath's Independence Day celebration, a variety of music groups will celebrate Independence Day on Friday, July 3, on the campus of The Ohio State University at Newark and Central Ohio Technical College.

The evening will begin at 6:30 when local singers Bill Price and Skip Anderson of Sticks & Stones 2 take the stage, followed by the Newark-Granville Symphony Orchestra at about 8:15. Soprano Alison Davy of New York City will join the orchestra for special guest appearances.

Another local group, Common Thread, featuring Hugh Price, Kevin Plaugher and Tim Hofmeister, also will perform, along with The Ohio State University Marching Band.

Fireworks will begin at dusk, accompanied by patriotic music.

The program is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit www.ngsymphony.org or call (740) 975-4633.

lwince@thisweeknews.com