Thursday, June 28, 2012
Fourth of July fun on Signal starts early, with participants in the annual parade through Old Town planning to line up beginning at 8:30 a.m.
The Mountain Business Association is again helping organize the parade, which it took over for the first time last summer.
“The parade has grown over the years, so the MBA has stepped in to help with it,” said Patrice Wishmyer, who is serving as chairwoman this year for the 15-year-old parade.
People usually line up along James Boulevard to watch the parade, which starts at Alexian Village at 10 a.m. and lasts about an hour, heading down James and taking a left on Tennessee Avenue, then a right on Texas and back onto James, said Wishmyer.
“The neat thing is if you’re in Old Town, you can just walk over,” she said. “We usually get a good turnout.”
More entertainment for children is planned for the ensuing Signal Mountain Lions Club’s 51st annual Fourth of July barbecue, said chairman Werner Slabber. Held behind the Signal Mountain Country Club at Althaus Park, this year’s event on Wednesday, July 4 will feature a bouncy castle for kids.
“Come out and have some fun with your family, meet all the Lions and people from the community, probably brush shoulders with the mayor and eat some great barbecue,” he said.
Slabber said the park recently received a facelift by the Lions, who have thoroughly cleaned the park and repainted the buildings.
Food will be served in the pavilion beginning at 11 a.m. until around 4 p.m. The Lions will also continue to offer the “Drive-Thru 4 Barbecue” service they started several years ago.
“We’re trying to streamline the drive-thru because it has been so successful,” Slabber said. “It makes it very convenient.”
Plates come with baked beans and cole slaw, and hamburgers and hot dogs will also be available.
Slabber said Anthony Amabile of Signal Mountain Electric is helping to make this year’s meal the best ever, assuring that the nearly 1,800 pounds of pork is cooked at the right temperature throughout the day over hickory and oak embers.
“He’s my righthand man on making sure we cook the barbecue perfect,” he said of Amabile.
Entertainment will include a band playing light rock and folk music and a guest appearance from Lions Club mascot Irby the Lion. Children will have the opportunity to get a free sight screening for early detection of vision abnormalities.
Fireworks will begin at dusk, around 9:45 p.m. Slabber said Atlanta Pyrotechnics International, which the Lions have been working with for more than 50 years, gave the group a deep discount of around 65 percent to put on the $800 show.
“Because we have been such a long-term customer, they are helping as much as possible see that our show continues,” said Lion Chris Cole. “While the Signal Mountain Lions sponsor the show, for the past three or four years we have received financial support from the town of Signal Mountain, as the expenses began to exceed the ability of the club to underwrite the full costs.”
Despite the town not contributing toward the cost of this year’s production, Slabber assures attendees the show will be just as spectacular as it’s always been.
“It’s a big undertaking, but it’s for the community and we love doing it,” he said.
Proceeds from the event go to charities including the Lions’ KidSight Screening program, vision testing and glasses for the needy, Lions District 12-O Eye Bank at Erlanger Hospital, Lions World Service for the Blind and Learning Ally.
The festivities will be extra special for Slabber this year, as it will be the first Independence Day in which every member of his family is an American citizen. Born in the United States, he moved to South Africa when he was 1 year old. He wanted to return to the area where he was born and moved to Signal Mountain with his wife Berna, who completed the naturalization process last year.
“We just love Signal Mountain and the people,” he said. “[Berna] said she feels more at home here than she felt where she grew up.”
Althaus Park is on James Boulevard behind Signal Mountain Golf and Country Club.