The downtown area will be red, white, blue and crowded Friday, as the city celebrates the Fourth of July holiday with a parade, FreedomFest and fireworks.
A patriotic parade will wind down Main Street from the old Wal-Mart building to Woodstock Elementary School on Rope Mill Road, beginning at 10 a.m., said Kyle Bennett, director of tourism and visitor center operations in Woodstock.
“The parade typically draws around 8,000 people,” Bennett said. “I would guess it’ll be pretty big this year.”
Since last year’s parade, festival and fireworks were cancelled due to stormy weather, Bennett said residents are even more ready to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday this year.
“Last I checked, the weather was looking good for the Fourth of July here in Woodstock,” he said. “After skipping a year, I think everyone is excited to enjoy the parade and fireworks again in Woodstock.”
With about 70 to 100 entries into the parade in years past, including both floats and walking groups, the parade is expected to last between an hour to an hour and a half, Bennett said.
The Etowah High School Air Force Junior ROTC Color Guard will lead the parade, followed by the Grand Marshal Chester Reeves, an Army Air Corps and World War II veteran, and then the Marine Corps League and American Legion.
The parade will include music and plenty of candy, said Marybeth Stockdale, special events coordinator for the city.
However, the local high school bands will not participate in the parade, Stockdale said, because too many students are away on vacation.
“When asked to perform at the July Fourth Parade, many schools declined due to the students being on vacation and the unlikelihood of having enough volunteers to make up a true band,” Stockdale explained. “We do, however, have some very good home school and church bands that will be participating again this year.”
After the parade, FreedomFest will take over the Park at City Center, at 101 Arnold Mill Road, with live music, craft and food vendors, children’s activities and other attractions, Bennett said.
Live music will be performed in the gazebo at the park all day, Bennett said. There will be a bounce house for children and a cake walk for all ages, he added.
FreedomFest will wrap up around 3 p.m., Bennett said, to leave time for activities such as grilling and family events, before the fireworks show begins at dusk.
The fireworks will be set off at dusk from behind the Target shopping center, at Highway 92 and Interstate 575.
Before the parade and festival get started, the Freedom Run 5-kilometer race and Fun Run, organized by Dayspring Church, will take place at 7:30 a.m., Bennett said.
“Every year, it’s gotten bigger and bigger,” Bennett said. “The last couple of years, they’ve had close to 800 or 900 runners.”
Registration will be available between 4 and 7 p.m. on Thursday, outside of Ipp’s Italian Restaurant downtown, or in front of Morgan’s Ace Hardware on race day. The cost to register is $30 for adults and T-shirts are first-come, first served.
Participants are asked to go to the parking lot of Morgan’s Ace Hardware on Main Street the morning of the race to pick up their number and T-shirt.
Main Street and intersecting roads will be blocked at two different times Friday, with a brief opening between closures, said Woodstock Police spokeswoman Brittany Duncan.
At 7:15 a.m. Friday, Main Street and Rope Mill Road will be blocked from Highway 92 to Woodstock Elementary School for the Freedom Run, which begins at 7:30 a.m.
The roads will reopen briefly between 8:30 and 9:45 a.m., to allow traffic through before the parade begins at 10 a.m.
The roads will close again from 9:45 to about 11:30 a.m., when the parade is expected to end.
At sunset, Duncan said the city expects a high volume of traffic in the area near where the fireworks display is set to take place, and said police will be directing traffic.
“All traffic parked south of Highway 92, including Super Target, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Lowe’s, Molly Lane and Woodstock Square Avenue, will be directed to turn right onto Highway 92 and travel east,” Duncan explained. “All traffic parked north of Highway 92, including The Home Depot, Big Lots, Hennessey Honda and IHOP, will be directed to turn right onto Highway 92 and travel west.”
There will be no left turns or U-turns allowed on Highway 92 until after the streets and parking lots are cleared after the fireworks, Duncan added.
There will be signs at exits to help drivers know which direction to travel, Duncan said.