'Freedom' on the Fourth

With "Freedom to Learn" as its theme — and Southern Oregon University President Mary Cullinan as the grand marshal — Ashland's Fourth of July spectacle will burst forth along Siskiyou Boulevard and East Main Street, to the delight of an expected 20,000 viewers.

Just as exciting will be the musical events, artsy booths, exotic food vendors, patriotic readings and, of course, fireworks, as Ashland joins America in celebrating the 236th anniversary of its independence.

The annual pre-parade breakfast at the Ashland Elks Lodge is from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. It's pancakes, biscuits and sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage links, fruit cup, juices and coffee. The cost is $7, $4 for those ages 10 and younger.

Events kick off at 7:45 a.m. at the Ashland library with the traditional 6-mile run and, 15 minutes later, the 2-mile run.

Vendor booths will open at 9 a.m. in Lithia Park, and the Siskiyou Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon's wildflower show will be in the Ashland Community Center, across from the park.

An F-15 fighter-jet flyover, scheduled for 10:15 a.m., will launch the parade, which starts at Triangle Park and flows down the main drag until it turns right at the Ashland Plaza onto Water Street. The procession will feature clowns, bands, beauty queens, children's entries, gymnasts, trick bikes, horses, faith-based floats, political candidates, social-service entries and historic vehicles.

A shoulder-to-shoulder crowd will follow the parade down the street, headed for the pubs and booth-lined Winburn Way along Lithia Park.

Ashland Lions' chicken barbecue will be from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the park. The Ashland City Band, Brothers and Craig Wright and Friends will perform from 12:30 to 4:50 p.m. at the park's Butler Band Shell.

Ashland Mayor John Stromberg will deliver an address at 1:15 p.m., followed by the traditional reading of the Declaration of Independence from the band shell.

Later, attention will turn toward Ashland's fireworks display, which will fire off at 10 p.m. at the athletic fields at SOU, at Siskiyou Boulevard and Wightman Street. No personal fireworks are allowed.

Not far away, the American Band College Fireworks Concert will start at 8 p.m. at the Ashland High School stadium, off South Mountain Avenue.

When fireworks begin showering the skies at dark, the music will play in tempo with the show. The event will feature a multimedia performance of "Battle Hymn of the Republic," with narration, big-screen video and a full choir. World War II veterans will be introduced. The American Band College is composed of directors of 180 bands, middle school through college, from across the nation. Admission to the show costs $18; free for kids.

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