June 28, 2006 - The town of Marana will continue its tradition of music, fireworks and games at the annual Independence Day celebration.
The event begins at 6 p.m. at Ora Mae Harn District Park and will feature music by the Desert Cadillacs and the High Horse Cloggers, concerts by Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe impersonators, a wall to honor military personnel, and an elaborate flag display.
Sixteen-year-old Cristina Cruz will sing the national anthem a cappella, which precedes a 21-gun salute to honor men and women who have served in the armed forces.
A flag display will honor all the branches of the military, including the American flag and prisoner of war flag wrapped around the flagpole.
Honoring armed forces is a central theme this year, and a wall of honor for people who have served in the military will highlight the gala.
The wall showcases names of military servicemen and women who have served, which people in the community submitted. The wall will have open slots for visitors to add loved ones' names and their own if they served.
A water obstacle course, jumping castle and watermelon-eating contests for all ages also will entertain the crowd.
The celebration includes a teen area with a disc jockey, as well as children's activities featuring appearances by Dora the Explorer, Hello Kitty, Spiderman, Shrek and Alex the Lion impersonators.
Visitors are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs for comfortable viewing of the fireworks, said Sandy Groseclose, special events and volunteer coordinator for Marana.
Northwest Fire/Rescue will give demonstrations on its ladder truck.
Medics on bicycles and the Avra Valley Fire Department will handle medical needs of the visitors and the Life Net helicopter will airlift people if the need presents itself.
Several Marana streets will shut down beginning at 4 p.m. July 4 to accommodate for the celebration, including Main Street from Greer Road to Civic Center Drive and Barnett Road from Sandario Road to Postvale Road.
Marana's festivities feature the largest fireworks in the county, Groseclose said, providing 8- to 12-inch shells and more than 1,000 fireworks.
Other displays will launch fireworks with 6-inch shells.
The town began holding the celebration at Ora Mae Harn Park last year because town hall and police station moved from Lon Adams Road to Civic Center Drive.
The 2005 festivities had much more open space for the expected crowd of 12,000 people.
The Marana Chamber of Commerce used to sponsor the event until five years ago, when the town's Parks and Recreation Department took over, moving the event from the Marana Northwest Regional Airport to the park, according to last year's event coordinator, Tammy Reyes.
The grass and trees at the park make it a more comfortable location than the previous venue, Reyes said.
The park contains a number of trees to provide shade for visitors, who can bring lawn chairs, blankets and food.
The 45 vendors at the event will provide an extensive variety of food and beverages but no alcohol.
The parking fee is $5. The event starts at 6 p.m. Gates open for parking at 4 p.m., and there will be some road closures. For more information, call 382-1950.