By participating in the Stars, Stripes & Cartersville celebration on July 4, area residents can show their patriotism while supporting a worthy cause. Consisting of a downtown parade and activities at Dellinger Park, proceeds from the day-long offering will benefit the Cartersville Morning Optimist Club's community outreach projects.
"The Fourth of July is our major fundraiser," said Spencer Dillard, Optimist Club member and chairman of Stars, Stripes & Cartersville. "The theme of the Optimist Club has always been bring out the best in youth. So all the money that we raise on all of our fundraising projects goes back into Cartersville/Bartow County and into youth programs, whether it's Advocates for Children [or] Bartow Christmas, things of that nature. Everything goes right back to help children."
Also presented by WBHF radio, the Independence Day parade will begin and end at Tabernacle Baptist Church's parking lot. After lining up at 7:30 a.m., the entrants will depart at 9 a.m., proceeding down Church Street, Bartow Street, Main Street, Stonewall Street and East Church Street.
There is a $30 fee for each entry, ranging from vehicles to floats. For more information or to obtain a parade application, people need to call Leslie Bronson with WBHF at 770-386-1450, visit www.wbhfradio.org or drop by the radio station at 7 N. Wall St. in Cartersville.
In past offerings, the parade has featured a wide array of participants, ranging from people driving antique cars to high school marching bands. New to this year's procession will be a children's offering, where youth can participate in the parade with their decorated wagons. First prize for the most patriotic wagon will be a $100 savings bond and second place will be a $50 savings bond.
"We've had good response as far as people calling in," Bronson said. "We've got a few applications, but mostly questions and people saying they want to speak with their church or their organization and find out just how many people are going to participate, that sort of thing.
"So [we have seen a] good response but not that many applications yet. ... We [normally] see everything from churches to schools to sports teams [and] companies that have summer [related offerings], like the Kona Ice truck [or] people that are building backyard swing sets. [So we have] a wide variety."
As a previous parade entrant, Bronson encourages the community to experience the procession at least once.
"It's a lot of fun, and it's a lot of great exposure for any organization to get their name out there," she said, adding she participated as a clarinetist with the Etowah Jazz Society's Dixieland Band. "The [spectators] who are going to come out in that kind of heat, they're people who really want to see a Fourth of July parade. They are real enthusiastic. I'd say more than anything it's fun and it's great to see lots of folks, because there's a great crowd that comes out."
The Optimist Club also is seeking food, and arts and crafts vendors for the Dellinger Park celebration, which will follow the parade at 10 a.m. Nonprofits and commercial operations will be charged $75 and $125, respectively, to secure a vendor space. Interested groups need to call Bruce Lindler at 770-387-1485.
The event at Dellinger Park also will feature children's activities, a petting zoo, live entertainment and a firework display at dusk.
"We could not do any of this without our co-sponsors," Dillard said. "For the parade of course it's Georgia Bank & Trust again -- it's their second year sponsoring the parade -- along with WBHF radio. And the fireworks is co-sponsored by the city of Cartersville and the Optimist Club."