Celebrating Independence Day in Dublin has come a long way from spending a July afternoon at a neighborhood cookout.

Celebrating Independence Day in Dublin has come a long way from spending a July afternoon at a neighborhood cookout.

Dublin's annual celebration has grown from attracting a few hundred residents to more than 25,000 guests.

The community has honored 38 Independence Day grand marshals, organized 42 parades and provided a venue for thousands of bikes to be showcased as works of patriotic art.

This marks the 16th year top-name entertainers will help residents and guests celebrate the nation's birthday at Dublin Coffman High School before spectacular fireworks light up Dublin's night skies.

Community pride plays a significant role in creating Dublin's Independence Day celebration. Residents have embraced traditions and established new ones. Traces of small town Dublin can be found within today's activities, and the journey leading up to the 2010 celebration reflects the same leadership, dedication and community spirit shown since Dublin's establishment in 1810.

Community involvement sparks interest

In 1968, when only 600 people called the village of Dublin home, small parades were sporadically held and Dublin was without a community-wide Independence Day celebration.

The Dublin Volunteer Firefighters Association planned a parade, a Little League softball game and bingo to establish Dublin's first Fourth of July celebration.

That same year, Ken Carpenter, the Dublin High School physician, was the first to bring fireworks to Dublin. What began as a small neighborhood show quickly grew into a community tradition.

"In '67 I came up with the idea to do something for the entire village instead of just our neighborhood," Carpenter said. "I knew it was only a matter of finding momentum within the community to get things started."

Funding from several people in the community including the Haydocy brothers and John Herron, owner of the local grocery store, made it possible for Carpenter to put on the show.

With the help of the firefighters' association, the village's first fireworks show was shot off from behind Sells Middle School's football field, which was Dublin High School at that time. In the 1970s, Carpenter passed the fireworks coordination to the local firefighters to continue the tradition.

"The first finale even included an American flag," Carpenter said. "Fireworks are a huge part of community life here and I still stay in Dublin to watch the show."

Independence Day activities continued throughout the 1970s with bike brigades, parades and games.

The village of Dublin did not become officially involved with the celebration until 1975, when it offered an initial donation of $500 to support the activities.

The city has a list of grand marshals that dates to 1972. Grand marshals can be individuals, families and couples who exemplify exceptional dedication to the community and inspire others to do the same.

In 1985, Dublin planned to celebrate its 175th anniversary with an expanded, three-day Independence Day celebration. In fact, many of the elements that Dublin residents see at today's celebrations originated during the 175th anniversary celebration.

Although the weekend party was on the calendar, members of Dublin's Parks and Recreation Department discovered a lack of planning just a month before the date.

Thanks to the commitment and extra work of Parks and Recreation staff and approximately 40 residents from community organizations including the Dublin Jaycees, the Lions Club and the Dublin Historical Society, the celebration was a success and it launched the beginning of city staff's involvement with the activities.

The first annual Sherm Sheldon Fishing Derby was held in honor of 1985 village manager and grand marshal Sherman Sheldon.

The Lions Club held its first barbecue in Coffman Park and it quickly became an Independence Day favorite.

Musical entertainment also was integrated into the celebration as the community gathered to hear local musician Arnett Howard conclude the festivities.

A modern-day tradition is born

Following Dublin's transition from a village to a city, the 1990 city council was interested in developing community events that would attract both residents and visitors to the city.

According to former city council member Barbara Avery Chapman, city officials passed an ordinance ensuring that money collected by a newly established bed tax would be used to fund special events in Dublin. A city-staffed professional events team was then created to help make council's goal a reality.

The expansion of the city's Independence Day celebration originated with Sandra Puskarcik, director of community relations. In 1994, Puskarcik established a partnership between the city and Dublin City Schools to redesign the afternoon celebration in Coffman Park to an evening event at the Dublin Coffman High School stadium.

The city's increasing bed tax fund and corporate sponsorships supported the event.

"Within six weeks we had an entertainer, we had tables on the field and we sold out," Puskarcik said. "It was a huge success and it quickly became one of Dublin's signature events."

Chubby Checker was the first evening concert, and many musical legends have graced the stage since 1994 including Little Richard, Frankie Avalon and Rick Springfield.

In addition, the fireworks display produced by Zambelli Fireworks and simulcast on Sunny 95 is now one of the most spectacular shows in the Midwest.

"It's been thrilling to be able to contribute to the strong foundation of community celebrations in Dublin, Ohio," Puskarcik said.

"The support of city leadership, as well as the entire community over the past 20 years, has provided us the opportunity to create a vibrant, family focused community that embraces events in a big way."

2010: Celebrating history, heritage and hope for the future

The 2010 Independence Day celebration will encourage community members to reflect not only on America's history, but Dublin's as well.

To commemorate the city's bicentennial, "Dublin through the Decades" is the theme of this year's Independence Day celebration.

In addition to showing patriotic pride, parade participants have been asked to tie in Dublin's history. Parade-goers may spot Leatherlips, golfers and poodle skirts marching through Historic Dublin on Saturday.

"The parade will help bring history to life and encourage attendees to think about the legacy and traditions they are leaving behind," events administrator Mary Jo DiSalvo said.

This year's event-filled Independence Day celebration will be held Saturday, July 3.

The 25th annual Sherm Sheldon Fishing Derby will kick off the daylong celebration at 8 a.m. at the Dublin Community Recreation Center, 5600 Post Road.

The annual parade will begin at 11 a.m. from Metro Center and continue through Historic Dublin.

Dogs of all shapes and sizes can compete in the Skyhoundz Hyperflite Canine Frisbee Disc Championship.

Registration is at 4 p.m. and the championship at Dublin Coffman High School starts at 5 p.m.

The concert gates at Dublin Coffman High School stadium will open at 4:30 p.m., and children can enjoy activities including face painting, tattoos and inflatables until 9:30 p.m.

Attendees can listen to live music beginning with the John Schwab Band from 5 to 7 p.m. and the Dublin Cornet Band from 7:15 to 7:45 p.m.

Featured performer Kenny Loggins will take the stage at approximately 8 p.m., followed by the fireworks as the grand finale at 9:50 p.m.

A closer look