Olentangy Valley News

Orange Township's July Fourth celebration ends on beach

New this year: Drone will track entrants in morning run

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The Olentangy Fourth of July Celebration will feature some familiar favorites and some new twists.

This year, Orange Township residents can schedule July Fourth "wake-up calls" from Olentangy and Olentangy Orange high school cheerleaders.

Ryan Rivers, president of the Lewis Center Business Association, said residents can pay $25 to have one of the squads visit a house between 7 and 9 a.m. July 4. All of the money raised will go to the high schools' athletic booster groups.

Rivers said residents can bring the cheerleaders out to their own homes or "maybe a neighbor you like -- maybe at 7 a.m. in the morning to a neighbor you don't like."

Two traditional favorites returning this year as part of the celebration, sponsored by the business association, are the Freedom 4-Miler and the Independence Day parade.

"The parade and the run have been around the longest," Rivers said. "Both are in their ninth year."

The run, which begins at 8 a.m. at Orange Middle School, will get a high-tech twist this year.

"We have a drone that's going to provide aerial coverage onto a high-definition screen," he said. "It's something new that I'm sure the runners will enjoy."

The drone will be provided by Infinite Impact, a Delaware-based firm that offers drone-based photography and other services.

The Freedom 4-Miler will be followed by the Liberty Lap and Firecracker Mile for children at 9 a.m. on the school's track.

The Independence Day parade will step off at 10 a.m. from Oak Creek Shopping Center, then head north on South Old State Road and east on East Orange Road before ending at Orange Middle School.

Rivers said the parade will feature both high schools' marching bands and a variety of floats.

The grand marshal of the parade will be Senior Master Sgt. Dennis McJunkin, who serves as a fire station captain at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Columbus.

McJunkin, who has been deployed to Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, among other countries, in his military career, lives in Lewis Center with his wife, Carrie, and his children, Dominic and Adeline.

After a short break, the Beach Bash will follow the parade at 5 p.m. at Alum Creek State Park with a kickoff ceremony featuring the Olentangy Orange drum line.

Rivers said the bash, which has become the celebration's signature event, will feature a food court, beach bar and family entertainment. The bash also will feature a boat parade at 9:15 p.m., weather permitting.

Cincinnati-based band the Websters will perform from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Rivers said the fireworks will start at 9:45 p.m. and will be accompanied by music this year for the first time.

He said the event is largely funded by the Lewis Center business community. He added support from Olentangy schools, the township government and individuals is crucial to the success of the celebration.

For more information on the event, including a full schedule of activities, visit lewiscenterba.com.

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