Independence Day promises fun, fireworks

Champaign-Urbana residents can celebrate the upcoming Fourth of July with a parade hosted by the Champaign County Freedom Celebration on Monday.

Starting at around 1 p.m., the parade will run from First Street and Kirby Avenue to Florida Avenue, then continue east to Lincoln Avenue before proceeding north to California Avenue.

Seventy-five floats, escorted by police on both ends of the parade, will make their way through Champaign, the University and Urbana.

Margaret Givens, board president for the Freedom Celebration, said this year’s theme of Discovering New Frontiers speaks “of all the discoveries in the local community.”

Givens said the committee went through 61 years of themes from past years to come up with this one.

“We thought it was a theme that the schools and groups could latch onto,” Givens said.

She added that she expects 10,000 to 20,000 people to come out for this year’s parade, depending on weather conditions.

“If the weather’s perfect, we have a pretty large attendance,” she said.

Josh Laskowski, publicity coordinator for the event, said he also expects thousands to turn out for the parade.

“It’s easy flow out for traffic, people watching and (for the) floats,” Laskowski said. “It should be an exciting parade.”

Givens said the parade’s purpose is to celebrate the cities, and it is one of the few events that incorporates Urbana, the University, Parkland and Champaign all together.

She said the committee has five floats in the parade honoring the celebration’s sponsors.

The committee contracted Floats N More, a float-building company, to build those five floats.

Matt Millburg, owner of Floats N More, said making all five floats is a difficult task.

“They would like to have five (floats) this year if I can supply that much,” he said.

Millburg said the float’s condition deteriorates easily, especially when the wooden structure is exposed to rain and rotting.

Laskowski said the entire freedom celebration is funded through donations.

“A number of businesses make it possible,” he said.

The committee has already raised the $90,000 for next year’s celebration, but Givens said the cost will most likely be higher because of an increase in prices.

Despite the rising costs, the intention behind the celebration is clear.

“It’s a great event,” Laskowski said. “We try to bring the entire county together.”