Wake Forest’s July 4th Spectacular includes multiple events over two days.
By David Leone
WAKE FOREST — A beach music show. Skydivers parachuting into the stadium. Food trucks. A 3,000-kid parade. Sack races, seed spitting, bouncy houses and pie eating. When it comes to celebrating Independence Day, Wake Forest does it with panache.
Now in its 43rd year, this community extravaganza is Wake Forest’s most eagerly-anticipated summertime event serving up two days’ worth of fun and excitement for the entire family.
“We hope everybody comes out and supports it so we can keep having it in Wake Forest,” said Rob Mitchell, who chairs the all-volunteer Fourth of July Celebration committee. “I think it’s a pretty unique, two-day event.”
Sunday, July 3, is the main show, held at Wake Forest High School’s Trentini Stadium, 420 W. Stadium Drive. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and admission is $5 per person or five for $20 (if bought in advance). Children age six and under are admitted free.
The evening concert features the always popular Band of Oz. Opening for them is the Wake Forest’s Friendship Chapel Baptist Church choir. Apples and Airplanes, which played the last two years, could not commit to the date this time.
After the music, a patriotic program is presented, which (weather depending) includes Don Carrington’s Parachute Team and a 20-minute fireworks display guaranteed to produce plenty of oohs and aahs.
The fireworks show typically begins at dusk — between 8:30 and 9 p.m. — but there is no official start time.
Concessions, including hamburgers, hot dogs, popcorn, and snow cones will be available for purchase at the fireworks spectacular.
Three food trucks will also be on site, including Lumpy’s Ice Cream, Charlie’s Kabobs and Fuzzy’s Empanadas.
Picnic baskets and/or coolers are allowed, but will be inspected before being permitted inside the stadium. Alcoholic beverages are not permitted on the Wake Forest High School campus.
Handicap parking (by identification only) and regular parking are available on the school campus. Families may tailgate in the parking lot, but everyone who enters the school campus must be a paying spectator.
“We did a survey of the events after last year. Some said they really wanted Band of Oz back and food trucks,” said Mitchell.
They had immediate interest from a number of food trucks, but the site can only accommodate a few.
“Three trucks is all we can fit on site,” he said. “We tried to stay with Wake Forest local food trucks.”
The following day, July 4, is the patriotic children’s parade, which runs from the Wake Forest Museum on North Main Street, through the seminary campus and over to Holding Park, where a slew of kids activities are planned.
Area youngsters are invited to hop on their bicycles and be a part of their very own walking parade.
The lineup begins at 10 a.m. at the intersection of North Main Street and West Juniper Avenue, near the Wake Forest Historical Museum. The procession will get underway at 10:30 a.m. Bicyclists are encouraged to wear their helmets.
The sight of that many kids in wagons and on bikes, all decked out in red, white and blue is really something.
“Last year you could stand by the Boys and Girls Club (on Wingate Street) and it was children as far as the eye can see,” said Mitchell.
The parade is free, as are the art and games in the park following the parade. Children of all ages are invited to create a variety of colorful arts and crafts projects inside the Wake Forest Community House, join in a slew of games and activities at the park and enjoy several giant inflatables at the adjacent R.H. Forrest Field.
The Wake Forest Community House and Holding Park are located at 133 W. Owen Ave. Forrest Field is located at 123 W. Owen Ave.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Chuckwagon and Pelican’s SnoBalls will be on site selling concessions.
In case of inclement weather, updated event information will be posted on the town of Wake Forest website and the town’s Facebook page.
Volunteers are needed to perform a variety of roles during the fireworks spectacular and the art and games in the park. For more information, see WFJuly4th.com or email WFJuly4th@gmail.com.
People can sign up online to volunteer at tiny.cc/wf4thvols. The site will show where help is needed.
Though the town of Wake Forest pitches-in money to help fund the events, much of the expense comes from the sale of the tickets on July 3. And all of the work organizing, set up, and tear down of the festivities is done with volunteers.
There is a 15-person committee. Several of their committee members have volunteered for decades, including Bonnie Johnson, Bob Allen and Bill Brown.
“When we get to the actual day of event, it’s about 12 hours work the day of. The next morning at 7 a.m. we’re back setting up. It’s a lot of hard working people,” Mitchell said. “The events are growing. The committee keeps growing as well.”
This is Mitchell’s second year as chair, and his fourth year on the committee.
“I enjoy helping out with fireworks,” he said. “I grew up here. I went to events as a child. Now it’s nice giving back.”
Where to get tickets
For the first time, advance tickets may be purchased online at WFJuly4th.com. Online purchases include a processing fee (about $1 per transaction).
Anyone who purchases a ticket online will receive a print-at-home ticket, which must be redeemed for a wristband at the red tent, located at the main gate.
Advance tickets may also be purchased at the following area locations:
•Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce, 305 S. White St.
•Wake Forest Weekly, 229 E. Owen Ave.
•Aloha Tan, 12223 Hampton Way Drive
•All About Hair & Nails, 12223 Hampton Way Drive
•Town & Country Hardware at Gateway Commons, 910 Gateway Commons Circle
•NC General Stores, 150 S. White St.
•For Old Times Sake Antiques, 223 S. White St.
•Wake Forest Renaissance Centre, 405 S. Brooks St.
Tickets may be purchased by credit card at the Renaissance Centre.