A party in Victory Park, a parade, music and fireworks are on tap for this year's Independence Day celebration.

A party in Victory Park, a parade, music and fireworks are on tap for this year's Independence Day celebration.

The official festivities kick off at 4 p.m. July 4 in Victory Park, where a variety of food vendors, amusement rides and games will be featured.

At 6 p.m., the parade will step off from Pickerington High School Central, 300 Opportunity Way, and proceed south on Lockville Road to Columbus Street, before making its way back to the school from Hill Road.

In addition to floats, this year's parade will be highlighted by an appearance by Violet Township resident David Williard, who was named parade grand marshal by Pickerington officials.

Williard was selected to preside over the parade after organizing a fundraiser to install a veterans memorial at Violet Cemetery, which was unveiled on Memorial Day. He said he was inspired to pursue the project in honor of his father, the late Earl Williard, who served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in World War II.

Through the help of the David Johnston Memorial American Legion Post 283 and local business and residents, Williard raised nearly $18,000 for the memorial, which includes a granite stone recognizing military veterans lost in battle, two granite benches, a concrete walkway, a paddock area and lighting.

"David should be recognized for providing Pickerington with a physical remembrance of veterans of all wars that the community has not had before," Pickerington Mayor Mitch O'Brien said. "Seeing how proud David is of his father's military service, along with his desire to honor his memory, inspired the theme of this year's parade: 'Be Proud!'"

The parade will mark the first time Williard has served as a grand marshal. He said he's looking forward to the chance to celebrate America while riding in his father's 1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, which will be driven by his 31-year-old son, Brandon.

"It's truly an honor," Williard said. "I've never had any accolade like that in my life.

"I just probably will smile and wave. I know a lot of people in Pickerington. It will just be nice to see friends and be recognized."

Williard said he hopes the event will bring further recognition to veterans and the men and women currently defending the country. He also wants those who supported the cemetery project to know he is grateful.

"The whole thing was just a rewarding experience," he said. "This is something I will remember all my life."

Following the parade, Pickerington officials will hold an Independence Day ceremony in Victory Park at approximately 7:30 p.m. That will be followed by a performance by Red Hot Rhythm Review, which will start at approximately 8:20 p.m.

This year's fireworks display is slated to start around 10 p.m. As was the case last year, the fireworks are being provided through a partnership between Pickerington and Violet Township.

Earlier this year, the city and the township agreed to share costs for the fireworks. The city has committed to spend $11,900, while the township has agreed to provide $12,500.

"We think it benefits the whole community," said Bill Yaple, Violet Township director of operations. "There are as many residents in the township as there are in the city."