GARNER — This year, the Town of Garner hopes to hold its Independence Day celebration on its usual date: July 3.
Last year, rain pushed the town’s biggest annual event – traditionally held the day before Independence Day – to July 5.
“But this year there’s not going to be rain. If I have anything to do with it anyway,” said Jill McAllister, the town’s new events and box office coordinator. “If I’m worried about anything it’s really just rain.”
Even with the date change, the 2013 event drew about 18,000 to Lake Benson Park. This year’s celebration will feature many familiar elements at the same location along with a few new twists.
The North Carolina Symphony again will headline the entertainment. After performing the national anthem with singer Rozlyn Sorrell, the symphony’s concert will start around 8:30 p.m. and last for about an hour. When the music is finished, the “best fireworks show in the Triangle” – at least according to the town’s promotional website – will wrap up the festivities.
The park’s gates will open at 5 p.m., and opening act Carolina Soul Band will start playing at 5:30 p.m. There will also be a variety of activities and food – everything from pizza, chili cheese fries and barbecue to smoked turkey legs, fried fish, funnel cakes and ice cream – that will be sold by nonprofits such as churches and sports leagues.
After Carolina Soul, there will be a performance of the “Garner All-America City Shuffle,” which debuted at the 2013 event and celebrates the town’s National Civic League designation as an All-America City. This year’s shuffle, however, will feature an added twist, McAllister said. The town will try to break the record for the largest group dance performance in one location.
Mayor Ronnie Williams will address the audience around 8 p.m.
Kids will have a lot of options, too, with inflatables, games and other activities that include craft tables and a bubbles station, McAllister said.
The event draws a lot of traffic and parking inside Lake Benson Park is limited, but the town has worked to offer alternatives. Garner’s website (garnernc.gov) offers alternative directions to the park, as traffic is expected to be heavy heading south on Aversboro Road from Timber Drive and toward Lake Benson Park.
There will also be a free shuttle running between additional parking lots just south of town at Bryan Farm on New Bethel Church Road. The shuttle will run from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m.
Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland