The Whiting community held its first 4th of July Parade 94 years ago. Back then, the parade featured men in bowler hats, church organizations and community bands, of which there were many.
I just saw a plaque that was given to Immaculate Conception Church for having the largest number of participants in the parade back in the 1930's and a program about park activities back then that boasted the No. 81 Ladies Branch of the Slovak Catholic Union performing a “drill wreath” for the crowds before the annual dance held in the park pavilion.
Times have changed, and this year's 95th annual Whiting 4th of July Parade is going to be one they'll be writing and talking about for years to come.
Since this year marks Whiting's official 125th anniversary, the city has gone all out to make this the most family-friendly and entertaining parade ever. There will be more floats and probably more bands than in past years. I know the Whiting-Robertsdale Historical Society is entering a float - a tribute to Pop Whiting, for whom the town is named.
But the most exciting news is about the identity of this year's Honorary Parade Grand Marshals. Unless you've made a trip to their homes in California or Florida, you've probably not seen them in person.
Whiting is thrilled to announce a partnership with Radio Disney Chicago™ to welcome Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse to Whiting's parade to kick off our city's anniversary celebration.
In addition to Mickey and Minnie, traveling to Whiting to for this year’s Independence Day parade will be Barney, Angelina Ballerina and Bob the Builder. These three HIT Entertainment characters will host a "meet and greet" at Lakefront Park immediately after the parade, where families will get a chance to take photos with these children's favorites.
The parade, which begins at 10 a.m. July 4, will also feature the amazing Jesse White Tumblers, the Culver Academy Pipes & Drums and, again this year (my favorite) the Association of Charros with their gorgeous costumes and their magnificent horses.
If you're a lover of the "Shrek" movies, you'll recognize Shrek, Donkey and Fiona on the Marian Theatre Guild float, since "Shrek - the Musical" is the guild's fall production.
Whiting will also host a special Pre-Fireworks Party the evening of July 3 at Lakefront Park. The party begins at 7 p.m., with the fireworks show at 10, all graciously hosted by Horseshoe Casino. There will be food available, live music and a beer garden. Whiting has always had impressive fireworks, but this year they're planning on a fantastic, extended birthday fireworks display.
The Pre-Fireworks Party will give you a chance to check out the "new and improved" Lakefront Park if you haven't been there yet. It's quite beautiful, with a lovely boardwalk right on the lake.
In fact, the season's first Summer with the Symphony concert will extend the celebration with a complete Disney theme, "Magical Music from the Movies," with actual Disney performers.
So make our Whiting Parade your destination this July 4.