Many will pack their 4th of July Celebration with parades and fireworks, but the day wouldn’t be the same without the volunteers behind the scenes.
“Without the volunteers we wouldn’t have a parade or the fireworks,” Volunteer for the Rockford festivities, Heidi Hoffman, said at a meeting for volunteers. “It takes a lot of behind the scenes meetings and a lot of work to put things together.”
More than two dozen volunteers each dedicate around 100 hours in preparation for both the parade and the fireworks display. Despite the heavy workload, many volunteers find themselves coming back year after year after they see the community’s response
“When you see those moments, that’s what makes you want to come back next year and do it again,” fellow volunteer Ted O’Donnell, added. “It’s the most exciting, exhilarating feeling to see that, and you’re a part of that.”
Hoffman has been volunteering for 21 years and is motivated in part by Mr. Firth of July Joe Marino’s dedication to the holiday event.
“Just to be a part of his memories and his journey as Mr. Fourth of July; That in itself is a reward,” Hoffman said.
“Uncle Joe’s never given up on Rockford for the fireworks and that attitude has gotten through the entire committee,” O’Donnell added about Marino. “To keep going forward, to keep going strong as much as we can no matter how much money we need to raise.”
While there are a number of locations to view the fireworks, O’Donnell recommends Davis Park for the best view, and offers some advice to those who will be attending for the first time.
“Enjoy the day with your family and plan the time accordingly to find parking, to come down, to be a part of the downtown scene. Come and get a spot at Davis Park, bring some chairs with you, and just have a seat and enjoy the fireworks.”
If you cannot make it downtown we will air the fireworks live to patriotic music on WTVO-17. Our special coverage begins at 8 PM Monday, and the fireworks start at 9:30 PM. Also new for this year we’ll be airing the parade on our Facebook live — at facebook.com/myeyewitnessnews beginning at 7 PM.