Bethany ready to knock some socks off

Those hoping to enjoy Fourth of July fireworks in Bethany Beach last year got a bigger boom — and more bust — than they might have expected.

A storm front lingering north of the town looked threatening as the audience for the display gathered on the town’s erosion-narrowed beach. But the first threat to the show — the town’s increasingly dwindling beach — had been thwarted with plans to have it shot from a safe distance, via an offshore barge. But as dusk arrived, skies drifted from cloudy to oppressive and black.

Just as the core of the audience was finding good spots on the sand, the first big boom and flash happened — but it was lightning and thunder instead of the promised patriotic display in the night sky. Many began to vacate the beach, hoping the show might commence after the storm passed. But a heavy downpour erupted within minutes, soaking the would-be audience, the pyrotechnics and any hopes for a 2006 Bethany Beach Fourth of July fireworks show.

“We hope we have good weather,” acknowledged Town Manager Cliff Graviet of this Wednesday’s show. “That’s the first thing we hope is different this year.”

Graviet spent part of his fall and winter lining up a new contingency arrangement for the town’s fireworks display, aiming to avoid what had become all too common for the show in recent years — a total rain-out.

“Should we have a problem with weather, we have a contractor who will be back the next night,” Graviet advised this week. It would be the first time ever that the show has a rain date.

Again, plans call for the pyrotechnics to be shot from offshore, via a barge. The barge will be positioned off Garfield Parkway, to center the show around the town’s boardwalk and bandstand. And Graviet said he’s expecting the event to be even better than ever when the first shots are fired, just after 9 p.m.

“We’re dealing with a company that’s very well known, and much larger,” he said. “We expect a great show.”

“They’ve promised to knock our socks off,” he added.

Parade taking a slight detour

The fireworks are slated to cap a full day of small-town Americana-style fun in Bethany Beach. That will kick off with the traditional Fourth of July parade around noon on Wednesday.

The theme of the 2007 parade is “Enjoy the Sun, Surf and Sand,” and those participating in the parade will be aiming to best represent that theme, as creatively and colorfully as possible, in hopes of taking home some of the parade awards that will be given out later that evening, about 7:15 p.m. on the bandstand.

But this year’s parade will feature a slight detour from the norm. Citing congestion, parade organizers have changed the traditional route for the procession.

The parade assembly area will still be at the corner of Garfield Parkway and North Pennsylvania Avenue, on the grounds of the Bethany Beach Christian Church. From there, marchers, cyclists and floats will proceed south on Pennsylvania Avenue, left on Cedarwood Street and then left on Atlantic Avenue. They’ll pass the reviewing stand on Garfield Parkway, continue to Ocean View Parkway, turn left on Ocean View Parkway to Pennsylvania Avenue and then turn left again on Pennsylvania Avenue, heading back to the to Christian Church grounds.

Registration for parade participants will begin at 9 a.m. and run until 11:30 a.m. Floats can be registered on Central Avenue, near Route 1, and bikes, walkers and other non-float participants will be registered on the Christian Church grounds. There is no pre-registration, but again this year, decorating kits will be handed out to the many children on bicycles who participate in the parade and will join the many bands, local dignitaries family groups, non-profits and businesses who join in the fun.

At the conclusion of the approximately 90-minute parade, the 19th annual Horseshoe Contest and 2nd Annual Pie Eating Contest (sponsored by Dangerously Delicious Pies) will be held, about 2 p.m. on the Christian Church grounds.

From there, the action moves to the bandstand at Garfield Parkway and the boardwalk, with the presentation of the parade awards at 7:15 p.m., leading into the traditional concert by the Philadelphia Brass Band, set to begin at 7:30 p.m.

If all goes well on Wednesday night, and Mother Nature cooperates, the sounds of the band will make a fine introduction to the fireworks spectacle and redeem the soggy staging of the 2006 event.

Also slated for the holiday week are a variety of entertainment options on the bandstand. There will be a Keyboard America organ recital on Friday, June 29. Bobby Martin’s Tribute to Frank Sinatra will take the stage on Saturday, June 30. Captain Quint’s Jimmy Buffett tribute will close the pre-holiday weekend on Sunday, July 1. And the Tim Laushey Orchestra will close out the week on Friday, July 6. All of the concerts are slated to start at 7:30 p.m. on the bandstand at Garfield Parkway.

Rehoboth, Ocean City offer alternatives

One traditional Fourth of July event for area residents and visitors saw its first silent year in many in 2006. The Dagsboro Church of God decided to discontinue its traditional day of family fun, capped by fireworks, last year. The change left many in the area seeking new venues for some patriotic family time, and for the fireworks that seem nearly necessary to complete the holiday.

While many headed to nearby Bethany Beach, other prime spots for a festive Fourth include neighboring Rehoboth Beach and Ocean City. Both are primed to offer some choices for entertainment on July 4, 2007.

The 2007 Rehoboth Beach Fireworks Show will be launched from the beach there and can generally be seen from Rehoboth Avenue, the boardwalk and shoreline. Fireworks launch time is approximately 9:15 p.m. Those wishing to attend are being advised to consider taking the shuttle from Route 1 at County Bank, beginning at 6 p.m.

That will get them there in plenty of time to enjoy Rehoboth’s July 4th Entertainment at the Bandstand. At 8 p.m. on Wednesday, the Navy Commodore Band, “the Navy’s premier jazz ensemble,” will present patriotic, jazz and popular music, leading up to the fireworks display. At 9:45 p.m., the Funsters Band, entertaining right after the fireworks, will extend the celebration for those not rushing to head home.

Also on Wednesday, Ocean City’s Northside Park, located at 125th Street and the Bay, will offer Jamboree in the Park, with activities for the whole family.

Live entertainment will appear on the main stage starting at 5 p.m. Family and children’s entertainment will be offered on the Fun Field stage, and roaming children’s entertainment will take place throughout the park. The south side of the Fun Field will be home to arts and crafts vendors. The Jamboree will also offer carnival games, inflatable activities and a rock-climbing wall.

Food selections will be offered on the Fun Field and on the patio. Traditional fare, such as hotdogs, hamburgers, pizza, fries, pretzels, funnel cakes, cotton candy, snow cones and sodas, as well as smoothies, curly fries and crabcake sandwiches, will be available.

Finally, those attending the Ocean City event in Northside Park can watch the fireworks display right from the park. The fireworks will be shot at 9:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Ocean City will also offer the Downtown July 4thConcert and Fireworks, at North Division Street and the beach. The lower-key celebration to the south offers the chance to stretch out on the beach or a blanket and enjoy a patriotic concert beginning at 8 p.m. Fireworks will be shot out over the ocean, again at 9:30 p.m.