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Celebrating a return to near-normalcy

Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneFireworks were for sale at the Discount Fireworks Superstore in Phoenix on Friday.
With Boomfest and the annual parade back on the schedule, Central Point is striving to keep July 4 traditions alive

After a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Central Point Chamber of Commerce officials have announced a return to near-normalcy for this year’s Independence Day celebrations.

Chamber Executive Director Stephanie Hendrickson had previously announced a “pandemic style” parade with a modified assortment of parade entrants — primarily of the motorized variety — would navigate various neighborhoods for residents stuck at home under gathering restrictions.

But a lifting of mask restrictions for much of the state Wednesday allowed for some revisions, Hendrickson said.

The Freedom Festival in downtown Pfaff Park is almost business as usual. Entertainment and food trucks will be serving up hefty doses of music and goodies. Free kids’ activities will be available.

Hendrickson’s personal favorite, the traditional parade will return to the downtown.

“Originally, because of COVID, we had planned an extended route where the parade would actually go all over, through Central Point neighborhoods. It was going to be a very, very long parade, and we were unable to allow walkers and horses who couldn’t make the distance. It was going to be very different than we’re all used to,” Hendrickson said.

“Now, we’ll get to have our traditional Central Point parade with all the things everyone loves — walkers, horses — just like normal. And we were already planning on the Freedom Festival, which will be just as big and amazing as ever.”

With the city of Ashland announcing cancellation of its fireworks show this week, Central Point could see an increase in attendance for its parade, festival and fireworks show.

One change that will remain is that parking and fireworks use in The Expo parking lot will not be permitted this year. The show is set for fireworks to be launched higher, to permit viewing from neighborhoods around the city.

Hendrickson said the return to near normal — with face painting, games, live music and food trucks — would be a sight for sore eyes.

“We’re very excited. For us, it’s really mostly about the kids having a great time. Despite the 99-degree forecast, it will be a lot cooler in the park, especially after these triple-digit days. We’re just really excited to see our community members out celebrating,” she said.

“We’re really excited. ... We were originally trying to keep this going, and promote it for our Central Point community, even if that meant they could step outside their houses to watch the parade go by. And now, everyone is invited to come.

“My personal name for it is the comeback parade.”

Event roundup

Sunday’s July 4 celebrations will include a host of annual favorites. Music will be provided by Brothers Reed, with other local groups performing on stage throughout the day.

8:30 a.m. - Kids Fun Run for ages 5-12 starts on Pine Street

9:30 a.m. - Parade starts on Pine Street

10:30 a.m. - F-15 flyover

10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. - Freedom Festival at Pfaff Park

Fireworks shows - Two separate fireworks displays are slated after dark. The city-sponsored fireworks show at The Expo starts at 10 p.m., and the 16th annual Vranes Family Fireworks Show will make a comeback this year in the Twin Creeks neighborhood soccer fields. Matt Vranes, a.k.a. “Big Daddy Boom,” started the show a dozen years ago, fueled by volunteer help and donations. To donate, see donatefireworks.com.

For information about Boomfest at The Expo, see https://attheexpo.com/boomfest/

For other event updates, see centralpointoregon.gov/parksrec/page/run-4-freedom-4th-july-festivities

Most cities ban fireworks

With extreme heat and drought conditions, most cities around the region have banned personal fireworks this year.

Jacksonville, Talent, Gold Hill, Rogue River, Phoenix and Ashland, which canceled its fireworks show this year, have banned all fireworks due to fire risk and out of concern for community members still grappling with the aftermath of last year’s fires.

Fireworks are not allowed along the Bear Creek Greenway, in wildland interface areas, or at public schools or parks.

Central Point, Medford and Eagle Point will allow legal fireworks, and Eagle Point will hold a fireworks show at Eagle Point High School at 10 p.m. July 4.