Rotary Club of Westerville: Independence Day celebration slated July 3

Lights of Liberty drive-thru set June 25-July 2

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group
The Westerville Independence Day celebration will start with a 5K run/walk at 8 a.m. at the Westerville Sports Complex, 325 N. Cleveland Ave. A fun run for children will follow at 9:15 a.m..

After a year off in 2020 due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the annual Rotary Club of Westerville Independence Day celebration returns with a bang July 3 with a few changes.

Dave Krebs, chairman of the Rotary’s celebration, said the theme is America’s Heroes, honoring those who helped fight for freedom, as well as those who helped battle the pandemic, such as the military, doctors, nurses, front-line employees and police and fire personnel.

“I think the community needs this really bad,” he said. “I’m excited we can make it happen.”

Krebs, who has been the event chairman since 2015, said the traditional four pillars of the celebration features a race, parade, concert and fireworks, although the parade won’t be held this year.

Westerville's fireworks will begin at dusk July 3 and can be watched from the Westerville Sports Complex, 325 N. Cleveland Ave.

“Over the years, it kept growing and growing,” he said. “I finally convinced them to move it to the Westerville Sports Complex across from the Community Center.”

The celebration will start with a 5K run/walk at 8 a.m. at the Westerville Sports Complex, 325 N. Cleveland Ave. A fun run for children will follow at 9:15 a.m..

“We usually have a parade midday, but with COVID and cramming everyone in tight quarters, even though we could, it was going to be overwhelming to get it together,” Krebs said. “We’re still having Lights of Liberty, where you can see red, white and blue lights.”

Ellen Cathers, chairperson of Lights of Liberty, said the Rotary has partnered with Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights for the second year.  

“We have a new location and a bigger show to offer,” she said. “It’s really a great event for our friends who suffer with PTSD.”

She said the patriotic digital drive-thru light show, costing $10 per vehicle, will be held at Westerville North High School, 950 County Line Road, from 9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. June 25 to July 2, with proceeds going to Sealkids

Cathers said the Rotary has a great history behind celebrating Independence Day in Westerville.

The Rotary helped sponsor what was the Westerville Jaycees July 4 parade in 1961 but took over the full responsibility in 1968, said Kirk Lawson, the organization’s historian.

He said the road run was added in 1978.

Following this year’s 5K, Krebs said, events pick back up at 5 p.m. with the band Deep Tones, playing a funk type of music, at the sports complex.

He said Popgun, featuring pop music, will lead up to the fireworks at dusk, close to 10 p.m.

The fireworks will be presented with patriotic music broadcast live by 104.9 (FM) The River.

Krebs said the fireworks will be set off from Heritage Park and launched toward the Sports Complex.

“What I had envisioned was after the concert, you could look up and see the fireworks overhead,” he said. “That will happen this year. That should be really cool to have it right overhead. It’s neat when it’s raining down overhead.”

Krebs said several food trucks would be on hand to provide food and beverage options for attendees.

Central College Church slates Freedom Celebration 

Central College Church, 975 S. Sunbury Road, will host Westerville’s 16th annual Freedom Celebration at 6 p.m. June 27.  

The free outdoor community celebration will feature a dozen food trucks, children’s activities and live musical entertainment by In A Jam and the Westerville Community Concert Band. Central College Church pastor Jim Zippay will offer a moment of spiritual reflection. Free water, low-cost food options, cooling stations and a dedicated nursery/changing room will be provided. 

Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs. Free parking will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

For details, go to ccpc.us/freedom

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla