The American Legion will once again host the Independence Day Parade next month with a fireworks show completing the holiday celebration at dusk.
American Legion Adjutant and Past Commander Capt. Barry August said the theme of the parade this year is "America's Birthday."
Tom Ruscik, organizer of the parade, said although he has already received confirmation from the St. James City and Bokeelia boat clubs, the Chamber of Commerce for Mango Mania and Wells Fargo that they are participating in the parade this year, more people prefer to show up the day of the parade and register their float.
Anyone interested in participating in the parade can call Tom Ruscik at 239-283-5270.
Anyone interested in participating in the parade can call Ruscik at 239-283-5270. He said registration is free to whoever wants to participate in the parade.
"Decorate your vehicle in a patriotic matter," he said, is all that is required. "It is O.K. to display the name of their business on the vehicle also."
The parade will also include children 6 years old and younger who wish to decorate their bikes and participate in the event. Ruscik said the children must be accompanied by an adult to join. Prizes will be awarded for the top three decorated bikes.
He said the children who partake in the parade will receive a free hot dog and soft drink at the Elks Club, where the parade concludes. The Elks Lodge will also have hamburgers and hot dogs on sale from 12-6 p.m.
Ruscik said every year they select a handful of secret judges to vote on their favorite first-, second- and third-place floats in the parade.
The parade will start at Winn-Dixie on Stringfellow Road at 10 a.m. August said coffee and donuts will be available.
The parade will leave from the south exit of the Winn-Dixie shopping plaza and head north on Stringfellow Road until reaching Pine Island Road where a left will be made to end at the Elks Lodge parking lot.
The grand marshal of the parade this year is Pine Island Food Pantry President David Grueser.
"We are absolutely thrilled to honor him," August said. "There are so many people that do so much for the people of Pine Island that don't get recognized."
Grueser said it was quite a surprise when he received the phone call about being grand marshal.
"I am happy to accept this honor on behalf of the 40 volunteers and all the people over the years that have supported the pantry," he said. "It wouldn't work without those people and everyone who supports it. I am happy to represent those people."
August said the American Legion is blessed to have Grueser as their grand marshal this year.
"It's a way of saying thank you to someone who never expects a thank you, but has done so much for the island," Ruscik said of why Grueser was chosen as the grand marshal.
The festivities on the Fourth of July will also include fireworks at the American Legion at dusk.
In an effort to defray some of the costs, August said it is really important that the Legion raises money for the fireworks. Those interested can contact him directly at 239-282-2200. Those who provide a tax-deductible donation will be listed at the American Legion.