Smyrna-Clayton July 4th Foundation organizes events, raises funds to celebrate Independence Day

America’s Independence Day will be celebrated in the Smyrna-Clayton area with a parade and fireworks on Tuesday, July 4.

“I love the patriotic display by the community,” said Joanne Masten, Smyrna-Clayton July 4th Foundation treasurer and former mayor of Smyrna. “We want to bring people together and get everybody involved.”

Masten and July 4th Foundation Director Bob Merrill are two of the foundation volunteers who are helping to organize events and raise funds for the celebration.

“Even though it might seem like we just do the parade and fireworks, we’re very active behind the scenes,” said Merrill. “We organize events on other holidays. We sponsor the Fourth of July Queen Contest, an essay contest, we give scholarships to Smyrna High School seniors, help Kay’s Kamp for children with cancer and sponsor a PAL basketball team.”

Parade at 9:30 a.m.

The July 4th Foundation is organizing the parade which will start at 9:30 a.m., at St. Polycarp Church in Smyrna on South Street near Smyrna Elementary.

The parade will travel from South Street, turn left on North High Street, turn right on West Commerce Street, turn left on North Main Street, cross Glenwood Avenue, and end at George C. Wright Jr. Municipal Park on North Main Street.

Lineup will begin at 7 a.m.

To register to participate, email Parade Chairman Skip Carrow at skip4515@yahoo.com or call 632-2405. The deadline to register is Friday, June 30. Anyone registering after that date will be placed at the back of the parade.

No events will be held at Wright Municipal Park after the parade.

“The carnival we’ve had in past years has gone out of business,” said Merrill. “The ones we contacted already have a set schedule where they’ve gone for years on the Fourth of July. So this year, we’re primarily going to have the parade and fireworks.”

Fireworks and flag fundraiser

Fireworks will be held at dusk on Duck Creek Parkway, Smyrna, with parking available at Smyrna High School and Smyrna Middle School. There is no fee and there won’t be any volunteers collecting donations that night.

Merrill said the July 4th Foundation is raising most of the funds for the parade and fireworks by renting American flags to display in front of homes and businesses on the Fourth of July, Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

“We’ve done quite well with the flags. We put out about 7,200 now and orders are still coming in,” he said. “Only in our wildest dreams did we expect to sell this many flags. Tony Payne started that with one or two other helpers. After he passed away, we’ve continued that tradition. It’s a laborious job to get out there in the heat and put out thousands of flags, but it’s really worth it when we’re done to drive around and see them.”

Although the deadline has passed to order flags for this Fourth of July, residents who register for the flag service will have flags placed in front of their home or business for Veterans Day in November and then Memorial Day 2018 and the Fourth of July 2018. The fee is $10 for six flags and $1 for each additional flag, and that covers all three holidays one time.

Foundation volunteers will set up the flags in front of a home or business before each holiday, then take down the flags and store them until the next holiday.

To register for the flag service, call Merrill at 653-6809 or Masten at 653-6235.

The July 4th Foundation also accepts donations from businesses, organizations or residents who would like to help fund the Independence Day celebration. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to Smyrna-Clayton July 4th Foundation, P.O. Box 776, Smyrna, DE 19977.

Volunteers needed

The July 4th Foundation meets on the first Sunday of each month except for July at 6:30 p.m. at the Clayton Fire Hall. The next meeting will be Aug. 6.

Masten and Merrill said long-term and short-term volunteers are needed. Some projects might just take part of a day, such as organizing parade entries on the Fourth of July or setting out flags for the flag fundraiser. Some projects are more “desk jobs” like keeping the records for the flag fundraiser.

Volunteers are also needed year round to help plan and organize Independence Day events.

“We’d like to get more members of the community involved,” said Masten. “It would especially be great to have young people to bring new ideas and so they could learn what we do. A lot of our members are getting a little gray and we need the next generation.”

Anyone interested in joining the organization can attend a meeting or call Masten at 653-6235 or Merrill at 653-6809.