If there's one thing you need to know about Whitehall's July Fourth celebration, it's this: If you wanna watch the fireworks, you gotta have a ticket.
Free tickets remain available through 4 p.m. Friday, June 29, for Whitehall's fireworks viewing party, set July 3 at Whitehall-Yearling High School, 675 S. Yearling Road.
This is the second year for the city's new policy requiring tickets to enter the high school grounds to see the fireworks up close.
Prior to last year, shows were held at John Bishop Park, but after several years of tumult, including multiple arrests, city leaders switched the venue and implemented a ticketing policy.
Because almost all those arrested were from outside Whitehall, police and city officials determined a ticketing policy would prevent nonresidents from making last-minute decisions to come to Whitehall's fireworks. They also said changing the venue from the wide-open John Bishop Park to the high school -- where entry points can be controlled -- would further resolve the problems.
The changes worked.
The number of arrests "was a big fat goose egg, zero," Mayor Kim Maggard said after last year's event.
While a maximum of 12,000 tickets are available for this year's fireworks show, they are not expected to run out, said Kaitlin King, community affairs manager for Whitehall.
Two tickets were mailed to residents in mid-May along with the city's annual residents guide, but additional tickets -- up to six -- are available, King said.
Tickets are free to anyone and can be picked up from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday, June 28-29, at the service department at Whitehall City Hall, 360 S. Yearling Road.
Tickets are required to enter the football stadium July 3, but residents who did not pick up tickets still can enter if they show proof of residency, King said, using a state identification card and a copy of a utility bill with matching addresses.
Whitehall's fireworks viewing party is from 6 to 10 p.m.
Blankets and chairs are not permitted outside the stadium but are allowed on the baseball and football fields inside the stadium, King said.
"This year we are offering even more family fun," King said, by increasing the number of food trucks and entertainment from last year's inaugural event.
DJ Matt Sexton and Alexis Gomez will provide music at the show.
Food vendors include Chicky Chicky Waffle, Philly Buster and Graeter's Ice Cream; entertainment will include bounce houses, balloon artists and face-painting.
Whitehall's Fourth of July parade will step off at 10 a.m. July 4.
The parade will begin at East Broad Street and South Yearling Road and progress south on South Yearling Road to Etna Road, then east on Etna Road before concluding at John Bishop Park, said Karen Conison, president of the Whitehall Community Celebration Association, organizer of the parade.
The theme of the 2018 parade is "Heroes Among Us" and the grand marshals are the three men who last October chased and detained a 16-year-old boy who stabbed and critically injured a 15-year-old girl.
In the Oct. 17 incident, Scott Bryant, Matt Burns and Kenneth Kosobud, all of Beechrun Road in Whitehall, chased the boy, who had a knife, a bottle of lighter fluid and a lighter, holding him until police arrived and arrested him.
The girl was stabbed 20 times and required surgery but survived.
The boy, Taji Kyle, now 17, agreed last month to plead guilty in adult court, and an eight-year prison sentence will be recommended, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
"(We) couldn't believe the heroism that these three individuals displayed," said Conison of the grand marshals. "All three of the gentlemen didn't even know one another, and yet all came to the rescue of a fellow citizen.
"We couldn't think of three individuals that deserved the honor more."
For those seeking even more Fourth of July activities, the Independence Day Carnival will run Thursday, June 28, through Sunday, July 1, at John Bishop Park.
The carnival, operated by Cromer Amusements, is open from 4 to 11 p.m. Thursday, June 28 and Friday, June 29; noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 30; and from 4 to 11 p.m. Sunday, July 1.
The provider sets ticket and wristband pricing, but the carnival will feature 12 to 18 rides, several games, and five or six food vendors, King said.
The carnival will be limited to the green space adjacent to Langley Avenue, King said.
Additional activities include the celebration association's annual pageants.
Held on different days as a run-up to the fireworks and parade in the past, this year's pageants are all the same day: Saturday, June 30.
The baby pageant is at 10 a.m. June 30 at Rosemore Middle School, 4800 Langley Ave.
The Little Miss Whitehall, Junior Miss Whitehall, Young Miss Whitehall and Miss Whitehall pageants will be held concurrently starting at 1 p.m. at the school.