Few cities welcome Independence Day as grandly as Whitehall, where activities associated with the city's Fourth of July celebration begin Saturday, June 24, more than a week ahead of the city's fireworks and parade.
"The city of Whitehall is continuing (its) long tradition of celebrating American independence," Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard said.
The parade, beginning at 10 a.m. July 4, will cap the city's celebration, but the festivities start with the traditional pageants sponsored by the Whitehall Community Celebration Association.
The pageants observe their 50th anniversary this year, said Karen Conison, president of the association.
The golden anniversary of the pageants also gives the parade its theme: 50 Years of Celebrations.
The Whitehall Area Lions Club will serve as this year's grand marshal.
While a tradition for a half-century, the pageants have a slight twist this year: a new venue. Instead of young girls receiving flowers and a tiara at the John LaCorte Amphitheatre at John Bishop Park, the pageants will be held indoors -- for the first time -- at Rosemore Middle School, 4800 Langley Ave.
"Over the years, there has been more than one instance of weather-related problems, especially when it came to the baby pageant," Conison said.
"We reached out (to school officials) and the school district was able to accommodate us."
All the pageants will be held on the same day this year: Saturday, June 24. Registration is closed.
The first of five pageants is the Beautiful Baby Pageant at 9:30 a.m., followed by the Little Miss Whitehall pageant for girls ages 4-6 at 11:30 a.m.; the Junior Miss Whitehall pageant for girls ages 7-9 at 1:30 p.m.; the Young Miss Whitehall pageant for girls ages 10-13 at 3:30 p.m.; and the Miss Whitehall pageant for high school girls at 5:30 p.m.
Conison said June 19 some pageants may be combined and times adjusted based on the number of entries.
The city's Music in the Park summer concert series will continue at 6 p.m. Sunday, June 25, at John Bishop Park.
Family Fun Night, sponsored by Kemba Federal Credit Union, will be held simultaneously, said Whitehall Parks and Recreation Director Shannon Sorrell.
There is no Music in the Park performance July 2. The Sunday-night series resumes July 9.
The city's Independence Day gala resumes June 29 when a four-day carnival begins at John Bishop Park.
"Concessions and rides will be set up along the Etna Road side of (John Bishop) Park," said Kaitlin King, community affairs manager for Whitehall.
Cromer United Amusements will provide concessions and rides, King said.
The carnival will operate from 4 to 11 p.m. June 29 and 30, and from noon to 11 p.m. July 1 and 2.
Also July 2 is the Whitehall Fourth of July Cruise-In, starting at noon at the Whitehall Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post No. 8794, 4100 E. Main St.
At dark July 3, for the first time, the city's fireworks will be launched from Whitehall Yearling High School, 675 S. Yearling Road.
City officials opted to relocate the fireworks from its usual venue at John Bishop Park because of unrest that has rocked the event the past several years. This year's show requires nonresidents to obtain tickets for the same reason.
Any non-Whitehall resident who wants to attend must pick up tickets no later than June 29 from the service department at Whitehall City Hall, 365 S. Yearling Road.
Residents also may pick up tickets in advance but will also be admitted at the gates with proof of residency, such as photo ID or a utility bill.
Establishing a ticket policy for nonresidents is meant to prevent groups of out-of-towners from attending the fireworks as a spur-of-the-moment decision, Maggard said earlier this year when unveiling the new policy.
Maggard and Whitehall police officials said last year that large groups of nonresidents arriving at John Bishop Park shortly before the fireworks were a significant factor in the unrest at the park.
Fourteen people were arrested last year and in 2015 and 10 people were arrested in 2014 during the city's fireworks display.
Police reports indicated a majority of those arrested in each of the three years lived outside Whitehall.
The city also opted not to hold its carnival on the same day as the fireworks. The last day of the carnival is July 2.
King said if the stadium's capacity of 15,000 is reached, residents who arrive July 3 without tickets may not be permitted entry.
"But we don't anticipate that," she said.
The city's parade will step off at 10 a.m. July 4 from North Yearling and Poth roads, preceding south on South Yearling Road and east on Langley Avenue before ending at John Bishop Park.
"These festivities are a great way for the community to enjoy the great American tradition of celebrating our independence with family and friends," Maggard said.