WAKE FOREST — The towns annual Fourth of July celebration this week will feature all the classics, from the childrens parade to the fireworks display.
But tucked in among the old favorites will be something a little different: an appearance by many of the celebrations founders, who put together the first show 40 years ago.
Rhonda Alderman, who chairs the Fourth of July committee, said that while the celebration has gotten bigger over the years, she hopes a strong sense of community still underlies it.
Even though Wake Forest is growing, were keeping that small-town feel, she said.
The founding members will lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Jerry Warren, a Wake Forest resident who helped start the celebration, remembers lugging a box of fireworks to the site that first year and learning to set them up. That year, the fireworks cost $500, he said. Today, they run about $15,000.
He also recalls when he and other founding members would sit drinking coffee and coming up with ideas for the pre-fireworks show, which continues today with appearances from Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty.
"I think its just great that some of the old traditions still exist, he said.
This years festivities get started on Wednesday night with a stadium show that includes live music and food concessions, followed by a fireworks display.
On Thursday, a childrens parade that draws between 1,500 and 2,000 participants will begin at North Main Street and W. Juniper Avenue and end in Holding Park. Games and art projects will follow.
Admission on Wednesday is $5 and free on Thursday.
The gate proceeds help pay for next years celebration, which is funded only partially by the town. Alderman said this years celebration will cost about $27,000, with $10,000 coming from the town. A volunteer committee puts the program together each year.
Alderman said that one of her favorite parts of the celebration is watching the crowd as everyone looks up at the fireworks.
When you see how happy they are, you know that youve made a difference, she said.
No pets, alcohol or tobacco are permitted on the grounds of Wake Forest High School during the stadium show and fireworks display. No vehicles are permitted to enter the parking area after the fireworks until all the exiting traffic is clear.
For more information, go to www.wakeforestnc.gov/july4.aspx.