A man waves during the 2019 Kenai 4th of July Parade in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)

A man waves during the 2019 Kenai 4th of July Parade in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)

4th of July on the Kenai: where to go and what to expect

The annual 4th of July Parade and festival will take place starting at 11 a.m. on Trading Bay Road

Folks across the country will be celebrating America’s independence tomorrow with barbecues, parade floats and fireworks.

In the city of Kenai, the annual 4th of July Parade and festival will take place starting at 11 a.m. on Trading Bay Road in front of the Surgery Center of Kenai. Parade participants will start lining up at 8 a.m. and anyone interested in being a part of the parade can go the Kenai Chamber of Commerce’s website or register that morning before 10 a.m.

“We don’t care if you’re in a float or a four-wheeler, everyone is welcome to participate,” Johna Beech, president of the Kenai Chamber, said on Tuesday. Beech said that the parade typically gets between 75 and 100 participants each year with hundreds more watching along the sidelines. She suggested that anyone looking to score some candy should find a spot close to the beginning of the parade’s route.

“Your best bet for candy is probably going to be Willow Street,” Beech said. “That’s when everyone is still feeling generous.”

Thanks to donations from the city of Kenai, Marathon Petroleum and other parade sponsors, volunteers will be handing out 1,500 gift bags filled with candy, American flags, Frisbees and sidewalk chalk to keep kids entertained as they wait for the floats to pass by.

After lining up on Trading Bay Road, the parade route will go down Fidalgo Avenue, take a left on Willow Street, turn right onto the Kenai Spur Highway and end with a right turn onto Main Street Loop. Waiting for the paradegoers at the Kenai Park Strip on Main Street will be the Midway Festivities. This year the festivities include a live performance from Troubadour North, a Bounce House from Jumpin Junction, 36 local food and craft vendors, a beer garden featuring Kassik’s Brewery and a Kids Carnival. With something fun lined up for everyone and plenty of Kenai’s famous food trucks set to be in attendance, Beech’s advice for the day is simple:

“Don’t eat lunch, just come to the Park Strip.”

For six years running, Kenai’s Fourth of July parade will also feature the Hometown Heroes Display. This display is meant to honor those from the peninsula who served in the military with signs displaying a photo of the service member along with their name, rank and the branch in which they served. The display will be located at the entrance to the Park Strip.

The official parade festivities are set to end at 3 p.m., but the fun doesn’t end there. Celebrating America’s pastime, the Peninsula Oilers will be hosting a free baseball game against the Mat-Su Miners starting at 7 p.m. at the Oilers Baseball Club on Tinker Lane. In addition, Twin City Raceway will be hosting their Filthy Fifty Stock Car Race with the time trials starting at 4 p.m. Racing starts at 6 p.m.

Pets will not be permitted on the Park Strip during the Kenai Fourth of July, with the exception of service animals meeting ADA regulations.

Due to current weather conditions and the fact that a significant amount of firefighting resources are being used for wildland fires in Alaska — including the nearby Swan Lake Fire — a ban on the sales and use of fireworks was issued on July 1 by the Department of Public Safety and is expected to last through the weekend. No fireworks display is planned as part of the Kenai parade, and Deputy Fire Marshall Jeff Morton recommended saving any fireworks already purchased for a later date.

“Personal opinion: save your fireworks,” Morton said. “You probably wouldn’t be able to see them very well right now anyway.”

According to a July 2 press release from DPS, troopers will be conducting increased patrols on Alaska’s highways on the Fourth of July and continue these efforts through the weekend. These efforts are to encourage motorists to observe speed limits and drive sober. According to the press release, 34 people have died in 31 crashes on Alaska’s roadways this year.

“We’ll have extra troopers out there,” Capt. Tony April said in the release. “But we need everyone doing their part to have a safe Fourth of July.”

In addition to the roads, Alaska’s waterways will see increased patrols from Wildlife Troopers over the holiday weekend as part of Operation Dry Water, a national campaign to enhance boating recreation safety. According to a July 1 press release from DPS, patrols will be on the lookout for boaters operating while impaired and improper use of safety equipment.

“Boaters need to make sure they’re familiar with Alaska’s boating safety requirements,” Alaska Wildlife Troopers Capt. Rex Leath said in the release. “We’re going to be contacting boaters and looking for life jackets and other safety equipment like flares and throwable flotation devices.”

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