Oak Park's annual Fourth of July parade starts a few hours past the dawn's early light?#34;thank goodness?#34;at 10 a.m. and continues until noon along the same route it takes every year: starting at Longfellow Park and marching north along Ridgeland to Augusta before breaking up at Whittier with a sing-a-long led by children's entertainer Jim Gill.
At dusk on the Fourth (a little after 9:04 p.m., according to the U.S. Naval Observatory website), villagers and visitors can revel in the Community Bank GALA July 4th Fireworks Celebration at the OPRF stadium. The audience will also enjoy a finale sponsored by Wednesday Journal.
Community Bank Senior Vice President Ruth McClaren, who coordinates the celebration, says she makes an annual request to a fireworks dealer for hundreds of shells of varying sizes. The larger the shells are, the higher the fireworks produced by them. This year, McLaren has ordered over a thousand shells that will be launched on the Fourth in arrangements dubbed "Star-Spangled Banner barrage," "Red, white, and blue peonies," "Silver coconut palm," "Purple strobe to green peony," and "Crackling dahlia."
The fireworks are free, as always, but volunteers will be roaming the streets around the high school with star-spangled hats, asking for donations. Community Bank will pass along a portion of the money to the Community Chest of Oak Park-River Forest, the local United Way organization that offers grants to local educational, cultural and charitable groups.