As St. Clair continues to plan and improve its annual early Independence Day party for residents, this year’s emphasis has included a Friday night full of activities as well as providing a mini carnival for event-goers on both days.
Freedom Fest is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, June 22-23, at both Evergreen and Orchard parks. Activities begin at 5 p.m. on Friday and will conclude with Saturday night’s fireworks show that begins at dusk.
“I am very excited about Freedom Fest this year,” St. Clair Parks and Recreation Board President Beth Lauer said. “We are trying new things out. Please come join us for a weekend full of fun-filled family events.”
On Saturday, the festival starts at noon at Orchard Park. A 5-kilometer run will take place earlier that day with a 7:30 a.m. scheduled start.
There are no Saturday activities at Evergreen Park, but everything except the carnival will occur there on Friday.
“We like the idea of showcasing both our city parks,” City Administrator Rick Childers said. “We have good parks, and this gives our citizens a great opportunity to enjoy them.”
The mini carnival featuring about eight rides plus some games and food starts at 5 p.m. on Friday at Reed Field on the west end of Orchard Park. Fun Time Shows, which also is providing the carnival for the annual Meramec Community Fair in Sullivan at the same time, will set up and operate the rides, games and vendor trailer.
Wrist bands will be sold each day for $15. A wristband allows access to all the activities. Food will cost extra.
The carnival will close later that night. The exact time will be determined by the amount of traffic. The park closes at midnight.
At Evergreen, things get going at 6 p.m. with a kiddie parade. The parade actually lines up at the gazebo in City Park along South Main Street and will conclude at the community swimming pool at Evergreen.
The parade route will follow Main Street to Park Avenue to Evergreen Park. Children up to age 12 participating are asked to decorate their bicycles, tricycles, scooters and other nonmotorized riding devices in a red, white and blue theme.
Awards will be given to the top three best-decorated modes of transportation. Mayor Ron Blum is the parade’s grand marshal.
A free swim for parade participants is scheduled from about 6:15 to 8 p.m.
Just prior to the swim, the city will conduct a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the new walking trail at the park. The trail features a larger loop circling the majority of the park with a connecting smaller loop around the adjoining St. Clair Southern Baptist Church property.
City employees have been working on constructing, paving and smoothing the asphalt path for several weeks. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on the sidewalk area near the pool.
At dusk on Friday, the movie “We Bought a Zoo” will be shown on a large, temporary screen at the park. Children and their parents are invited to attend at no cost. Those attending are asked to bring blankets or lawn chairs.
Hot dogs and popcorn will be served throughout Friday’s events at Evergreen. Drinks and snacks will be sold throughout the swim at the pool concession stand. Dana’s Shaved Ice also will be selling snow cones and ice cream throughout the evening.
Saturday’s events start early with the 7:30 a.m. 5-kilometer run/walk. It begins at the smaller pavilion at the south end of Orchard Park. The route weaves its way through St. Clair and finishes back at the park.
The cost to participate is $15 if registered before race day or $18 on Saturday. Hats will be awarded to the top two male and female finishers in several divisions as well as in various team categories.
Event organizer Bart Coleman, chairman of the St. Clair Area Chamber of Commerce’s Beautification Committee, the group in charge of the race, said “the 5K promotes exercise and movement for runners and walkers.”
Proceeds will benefit the Chamber’s Beautification Committee and the 1175th Military Police Co. The organization with the largest number of participants may have all its proceeds donated to the charity of choice.
Refreshments will be served along the race path.
For more information, contact Coleman or the St. Clair Area Chamber of Commerce.
Freedom Fest gets under way at noon with opening ceremonies. About 30 vendors have signed up, and most of them will be selling various food items.
The carnival reopens at 1 p.m. and will run until shortly before the fireworks show begins at dusk. This year’s fireworks will be the largest ever in St. Clair, officials have said. Last year, inclement weather delayed the show a day and then cut it short, prompting Lantis Fireworks of Eureka to promise a “bigger and better” show this year.
The rain date is Sunday.
Also planned on Saturday are various activities and games for all ages.
Special events include a cheerleading clinic at 1 p.m., yoga demonstration at 2 p.m., a talent show at 3 p.m., watermelon eating contest at 5 p.m., nickel in a haystack competition at 5:30 p.m. and turtle races at 6 p.m.
The talent show is a new feature this year and replaces the children’s pageant. Individuals of all ages may sign up beforehand or on the day of the event. The cost is $10 or $25 for groups of four or more. Awards will be presented to the top finishers in each age category.
There is a code of conduct to follow regarding acts.
Registration forms are available at city hall or on the day of the festival. Dana Collins is organizing the talent show.
Throughout the two-day event, park board members and other city officials will be on hand to assist individuals and answer questions.
On both Friday and Saturday, the west parking lot off of the Interstate 44 South Service Road at Orchard Park will be closed. Vehicles will not be allowed to park at that location. Parking will be available on the soccer fields at the east end of the park.
For more information, contact city hall at 636-629-0333.