Whitehall will begin what is expected to be a new Fourth of July tradition when Whitehall-Yearling High School, 675 S. Yearling Road, hosts the city's fireworks display Monday, July 3.
As many as 15,000 people can be accommodated in the high school's football stadium.
"Our fireworks display will always be the signature event of our Independence Day festivities," said Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard. "Moving the viewing event will enable (everyone) to experience a spectacular show in a safe and family-friendly environment."
City officials do not expect the football stadium's capacity to be reached but are working to make residents aware of the possibility -- and that either a ticket or proof of residency is required for entry.
Thursday, June 29, is the final day to pick up tickets at Whitehall City Hall, 360 S. Yearling Road.
Only those with tickets, or residents who show proof of their residency -- such as a driver's license or utility bill -- at the stadium's gates July 3 will be allowed to enter, according to city officials.
Gates will open at 6 p.m. July 3.
The stadium has limited points of entry and the city plans to search some personal property of those who wish to enter, said Kaitlin King, community affairs manager for Whitehall.
The Lee Gantt Band will perform before the fireworks, scheduled to begin at 10 p.m.
"The stadium will be cleared after the fireworks in an orderly manner. People will be asked to leave at the same points they entered," King said.
City and school district officials have been planning the logistics of the new venue for almost a year.
Maggard announced in October the city's fireworks would move to the high school from John Bishop Park, the only site in most people's memories for the annual display.
But after several years of unrest, including multiple arrests during and after the firework shows in 2014, 2015 and 2016, city officials determined changes were in order.
Those changes included ending the city's multiday carnival at John Bishop Park on July 2. Police determined running the carnival up until the start of the fireworks each July 3 created an environment that possibly facilitated confrontations, especially among juveniles.
City officials and police opined that large numbers of nonresident juveniles entering the city, coupled with a park that has countless entry and exit points, created conditions that were difficult to control.
In 2014, 10 people were arrested and 17 were detained after a melee erupted at the start of the fireworks show, leaving four police officers with minor injuries.
In 2015, 14 people were arrested. Last year, 14 people were arrested; all but two were juveniles, according to Whitehall police.
Reports indicated the majority of those arrested in each of the past three years lived outside Whitehall.
Requiring tickets for entry to the fireworks and staging them in a controlled venue will end the unrest and provide a family-friendly environment, Maggard said.
Nonresidents who do not obtain a ticket by June 29 will not be admitted to the stadium July 3, King said.
The city's Fourth of July parade begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 4.
The parade will begin at North Yearling and Poth roads, then proceed south on South Yearling Road and east on Langley Avenue, ending at John Bishop Park.
Other holiday activities include a classic car show, sponsored by the Whitehall Community Celebration Association, beginning at noon Sunday, July 2, at the Whitehall Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post No. 7984, 4100 E. Main St., and the city's multiday carnival at John Bishop Park.
"Concessions and rides will be set up along the Etna Road side of (John Bishop) Park," King said.
Cromer United Amusement is the provider of concessions and rides, she said.
The carnival will operate from 4 to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday, June 29-30, and from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 1-2.