Pickerington officials said they hope to have a festive -- and trouble-free -- Independence Day celebration this year after changing the schedule to stretch the festivities over two days.

After two consecutive years of unruly crowds and growing safety concerns during the fireworks portion of the annual July Fourth celebration, Pickerington and Violet Township officials decided something needed to be changed.

The result is a change to the longstanding holiday tradition that saw the community's parade and fireworks display both take place July Fourth.

This year, the fireworks show will be at 10 p.m. July 3, aligning it with Columbus' Red, White & Boom! and similar celebrations held in Reynoldsburg and Whitehall.

Fireworks will be launched from the Pickerington High School Central band practice field, 300 Opportunity Way.

No activities will be held in Victory Park on July 3.

"You can still view the fireworks from Victory Park," said Becca Medinger, Pickerington Parks and Recreation director.

City officials have said they hope the date change will reduce the number of nonresidents coming to the fireworks, who in the past have caused a surge in attendance and reportedly been the primary culprits behind fights and other disturbances.

"The goal is for it to be a community-oriented event, for those that call Pickerington home, and hopefully, the changes we made will accomplish that," said Mayor Lee Gray.

Medinger said this year's fireworks display would cost $18,500. The costs are split between the city and Violet Township, she said.

On July Fourth, the annual parade will begin at 10 a.m. Members of the Central boys track and field team, which repeated as state champions this school year will be honored as the grand marshals.

"Winning a state championship, and repeating as state champions, is a great accomplishment," Gray said.

"There hasn't really been an opportunity to celebrate this team's success since winning the title happened after school was out (for the summer break).

"So by selecting the team as grand marshal, we have a chance to do that."

As of June 20, Medinger said, 49 entrants were signed up to participate in the parade.

"Parade route is as normal -- Opportunity Way, north on Lockville Road, west on Columbus Street, south on Hill Road and ending at Ridgeview Junior High," Medinger said.

There will be inflatable amusements in Victory Park, provided by the Pickerington Food Pantry, as well as food to be sold by the Pickerington Lions Club, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

From 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., the Central and Pickerington High School North marching bands will perform. The celebration will end at 2 p.m.

Medinger encouraged July Fourth revelers to come out for the parade and party in Victory Park "to enjoy a great event with family and friends while we celebrate as a nation together."

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