Pickerington Times-Sun

Independence Day celebration

Francis, basketball Tigers to lead parade

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Pickerington's first-ever high school state championship boys basketball team, as well as its coach and his family, will preside over this year's Independence Day celebration.

Pickerington and Violet Township's July Fourth celebration features a full slate of activities this year, beginning with opening festivities in Victory Park at 4 p.m. July 4.

At 4:30 p.m., the city and township's annual July Fourth Parade will begin with a parade lineup at Pickerington High School Central, 300 Opportunity Way.

It's fitting the lineup will kick off at the home of the Tigers this year, because the PHS Central state champion boys basketball team, Coach Jerry Francis and his family will serve as grand marshals of the parade.

"Coach Francis and the Tiger boys' basketball team won the first (boys) state championship in Pickerington's history," Pickerington Mayor Lee Gray said.

"Their achievements, on and off the basketball court, bring pride and positive notoriety to this community," he said.

Numerous attempts to reach Coach Francis via telephone and email were unsuccessful as of press time.

A call for comment from the Pickerington Local School District's Superintendent's Office wasn't returned.

However, the undersized Tigers' play during the past season speaks for itself.

Central captured the first state title in the program's history after defeating Toledo Whitmer -- a team which concluded the 2011-12 season with a 24-3 record and featured 6-8, 260-pound Michigan recruit Chris Wormley -- 45-40 last March.

The championship capped off a 26-2 season for the Tigers, and the parade will serve as another chance for the sophomore-laden squad to bask in its accomplishment and gear up for next season.

In addition to saluting the champs, the parade and accompanying festivities will embrace this year's "Star Spangled Celebration" theme.

The parade is expected to begin at 6 p.m., and will follow its traditional two-mile route north on Lockville Road past Victory Park, before proceeding west on Columbus Street through Olde Pickerington Village and south on Hill Road. It will end at Ridgeview Junior High School.

Parade participants are prohibited by law from throwing candy and other materials from floats to spectators.

Spectators also are asked to carpool to the event, when possible.

Awards will be given to the "best looking" parade float in both commercial and non-commercial categories.

At 7:30 p.m., opening ceremonies for the celebration in Victory Park will begin.

They will be followed by live musical performances by Parrots of the Caribbean and Jake and Elwood's Blues Revue, which will take place from 8 to 11 p.m.

The annual fireworks display, which is co-sponsored by the city of Pickerington and Violet Township, is slated for 10 p.m.

"Fireworks will be launched at Sycamore Park, but the park will be closed to the public," said Rebecca Medinger, Pickerington's recreation administrator.

"Viewing can take place in Victory Park," she said.

Additional information is available by contacting the Pickerington Parks and Recreation Department at (614) 833-2211.

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