It’s time to celebrate

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By Kirsten Laskey

America has encountered tough times and surely more challenges are around the corner. However, there have also been successes, triumphs and achievements. With this mixed bag of situations, perhaps a celebration is needed. A chance to recognize achievements and the opportunity to build optimism for whatever lies ahead.   

So what perfect timing that Independence Day is approaching and Los Alamos is ready to deck itself out in red, white and blue to embrace July 4.

Fun will fill up the day. The Family YMCA will host its annual activities, including the Independence Day Firecracker Family 5K Fun Run. The race begins at 8 a.m. Saturday at the YMCA. The admission is $12 per person, before the race day and $20 per person the day of the race.

Participants are encouraged to register either online at www.laymca.org or at the YMCA at 1450 Iris St.

John Marble, senior program director at the YMCA, said the run offers a good time and usually features a great turnout.

There will be a raffle for prizes donated by businesses and the race is for anyone from serious runners to families who walk the course.

After the race, YMCA will take to the streets again, this time for the annual Family YMCA Independence Day Children’s Parade. The parade begins at 11 a.m. Participants in the parade will gather at 10:30 a.m. in the parking lot located at the southeast corner of Central Avenue and 20th Street.

Participants are encouraged to decorate their bikes, toys and family members in patriotic flair. While two-wheeled bikes are not allowed, pets are, as long as they are restrained and cleaned up after. The parade will head down Central Avenue, north on 15th Street and then to the south end of the YMCA parking lot.

Afterwards, the American Legion, 1325 Trinity Drive, will serve hot dogs and watermelon.

“It’s generally a fun time for the kids to get in the parade,” Marble said. “(They can) show their spirit, get balloons, they get entertained and they get to go eat hot dogs and watermelon.”

People like to attend both events to kick off the July 4 celebrations, he added.

There will be more than one parade in town Saturday. The Children’s Parade and Carnival will be held at 10 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, located at 366 Grand Canyon. Children are welcome to decorate their bikes, scooters and wagons for the parade. At the carnival, they will have the opportunity to play games and win prizes.

There is no cost to attend either parade and the carnival is also free.

Patriotic festivities will continue in White Rock. The Los Alamos Kiwanis Club will host a July 4 bash beginning at 2 p.m. at Overlook Park.

The event will offer bouncy toys, face painting and vendors from 2 p.m. till dark. Kristy Keane, second vice president of the Kiwanis, said almost 20 vendors will be present at the park.

Additionally, from 2-4 p.m., HillStompers will offer live entertainment before Peace Meal takes the stage from 4-5 p.m. and again from 7-8:50 p.m.

The band will perform the “Star Spangled Banner” from 8:50-9 p.m. The Los Alamos Community Winds will perform from 5:30-6:45 p.m. The ensemble’s program includes a piece, “Little Mesa March,” by Los Alamos resident Jim Beinke.

The climax of the event will be the fireworks, which will light up the night sky from 9-10 p.m. A special firework will be fired off in tribute to the county’s 60th anniversary.

In an e-mail, Kiwanis member Pat Soran explained the club will put up about 2,500 shells to be fired in a little more than 30 minutes.

This year, Soran added, the club purchased additional hardware to allow them to put up more shells in a choreographed manner to enhance the excitement of the show.

The entire show is done electronically thanks to the support of local merchants and donations, he wrote.

Another addition is that KRSN AM 1490 will broadcast patriotic music in sync with the fireworks starting at 9 p.m.

Keane added that county employees Leo Maestas and Jeff Humpton have been very helpful in assisting the Kiwanis with the fireworks.

Los Alamos County co-sponsors the event with the Kiwanis.

Music by the HillStompers will complete the evening.

Participants are reminded there is no overnight camping the day before or the day of the event and pet owners are strongly discouraged from bringing their animals to the park.

There is a $5 donation to be admitted to the event.

The event is a major fundraiser for Kiwanis, Keane said. The organization donates a lot of money from student scholarships to Los Alamos Little League.

Fundraising is just one goal; another objective is to provide a fun activity for the community. “Every year it grows,” Keane said. “We try to make it bigger and better each year … we have people all over New Mexico come over to the event.”

She estimated that between 12,000-15,000 people participate in the event.

The event is valuable to Kiwanis, as well. “It’s always nice to see new vendors … we get to see people from all over. I think the best part for us is we get to offer a safe event to the community.”

Worried about traffic? The Atomic City Transit is offering a solution. The transit is offering free bus services between Sullivan Field and Overlook Park.

Buses will circulate from Sullivan Field every 10 minutes, from 4-8:20 p.m. After the fireworks are completed, the buses will make return trips to Sullivan Field from Overlook Park. The last bus will leave the park at 11 p.m.

For anyone with disabilities or for residents who are older than age 60, Dial-a-Ride will be available. Call 661-7433 to make a reservation.

Soran will be interviewed on KRSN AM 1490 at 7:30 p.m. Thursday about the event. Tune in for additional information.