AKRON — Humid temperatures pushing 90 degrees did little to discourage crowds of revelers from descending upon the 2019 4th of July Festival.
Thursday’s festivities started with a fireman breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m. at the Henry Township fire station. The Firecracker 5K run stepped off from Akron Elementary School at 8 a.m.
The festival’s centerpiece, a 74-entry parade, commenced at 11 a.m. Many of the floats in the hour-plus procession creatively displayed the festival’s theme, “Bing Bang Boom.”
Afternoon activities at Pike Memorial Park included a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, blow-up bounce houses, kiddie pedal pull, volleyball tournament, petting zoo and children’s games, car show and various food and retail vendors.
Nighttime ushered in a band concert and art show with reception and awards before the fireworks at 10 p.m.
The festival actually kicked off Saturday, June 22, at Lake City Bank when voting opened for this year’s cute baby contest.
Parade winners in six categories were announced by mid-afternoon:
• Floats, New Life Church, Operation Christmas Child
• Automobiles and Classic Automobiles, Fort Wayne Corvette Club
• Tractors, Darwin Stafford, John Deere 1947 A
• Marching Units, Pike Lumber Company
• Bands, Tippecanoe Valley High School Marching Band
• Horses, Shawna Ammerman and Miami Indians
The festival annually draws more than 3,000 attendees, according to Rebecca Hartzler, Akron’s clerk-treasurer, nearly three times the town’s population of 1,123.
The festival started in 1961 and its preparation takes the work of 10 volunteers who start the planning in January.
“The Akron 4th of July festival is an opportunity for the community to celebrate its founding and independence,” said Hartzler.
“For many families, the Akron 4th of July is a homecoming, even more than other holidays.”
Hartzler thanked sponsors Pike Lumber Company, RTC, K&S Trucking, Akron Las Donas, Webb’s Pharmacy, Akron Liquor, Haynes Well & Drilling, Gast Heating & Cooling, Akron Dental, Good To Go Oil, O&R Buildings, Hoffman Body Shop, NII Coatings, Viking Foods and Hartzler Funeral Services.
Some images from the day’s festivities (photos by Ray Balogh):