More activities and fun at the beach will be a new highlight of this year's Orange Township Fourth of July celebration next Thursday, July 4.

More activities and fun at the beach will be a new highlight of this year's Orange Township Fourth of July celebration next Thursday, July 4.

A beach bash is the newest addition to the event, followed by fireworks for the second straight year at Alum Creek State Park, said Ryan Rivers and Kris Neff, small-business owners and co-chairmen of the eighth annual celebration. The beach activities will start at 4 p.m. at the state park off Lewis Center Road and run until midnight.

The day-long celebration, which officially begins with the traditional July Fourth four-mile run and parade in the morning, is coordinated by the Orange Township Business Association. Various business sponsors are helping to fund the celebration, Neff said. This year's budget is about $30,000.

"This is very much a community event," Rivers said, which is why the business group works to make the celebration better each year.

The beach bash will feature a variety of activities. Children can have fun in three or four inflatable bounce houses, and there will be a boat parade, a beer garden, concessions, a food court, a VIP area and live entertainment.

Two bands -- 12 Steps Down and Pett Crow -- will perform, and a disc jockey will be on hand. Music starts at 6 p.m. The fireworks, a new addition last year, are set to launch at 9:45 p.m.

But there will be a lot going on before it's time to sit back and watch fireworks, the two business owners said.

The Orange High School cheerleaders will be out bright and early to provide a wake-up call for residents.

Anyone can hire the cheerleaders for $25 between 7 and 9 a.m. to rouse unsuspecting sleepers. All of the money raised goes to support the school's cheerleader program.

The annual Freedom 4-Miler run is set to begin at 8 a.m. at Little Bear Golf Course, 1940 Little Bear Loop. Rivers and Neff said about 500 participants are expected. A children's 1-mile run follows at 9 a.m.

The parade starts at 10 a.m. on Powell Road at the Oak Creek Center. It will travel to South Old State Road and turn north on Orange Road, wrapping up at Orange Middle School.

This year will feature an inaugural Battle of the Floats competition. Girl Scout Abby Chubb pushed for the float competition this year. The theme of the contest is "Birth of America," and Abby has passed out fliers to persuade residents and others to participate.

Township Trustee Debbie Taranto, who helped start both the business association and the July Fourth parade, said in an email that the parade is a great way to involve residents.

"It is not only a celebration of our freedom, but a celebration of our community," she said.

Last year, about 5,000 people attended. Taranto expects about 60 floats and vehicles to be in this year's parade.

The beach bash and fireworks are expected to attract upwards of 15,000 people, Rivers and Neff said.

"We had a good (fireworks) show last year," said Rivers, who added he hopes for a big turnout July 4.

Traffic and parking could be issues, although organizers plan to have up to 20 special-duty Delaware County Sheriff's deputies and state park rangers on hand to help. Parking is available at the state park but it is expected to fill up quickly.

"It's going to be a lot of people," Neff said. "It's just about making it better each year and seeing what works and what doesn't work."

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