Monday marks the first day of the month, and that means one important thing for Indiana County — the Lions Club annual Fourth of July Celebration is this week.
The celebration, held every year at J.S. Mack Community Center, begins with a flea market at 8 a.m. Thursday in the animal barns.
“It’s a big flea market,” said Lion Bill Stancombe, and it goes on all day.
Vendors have reserved space ahead of time, and there is still table space available.
Starting the festivities at 9:30 a.m. is the Marion Center Lions Pet Parade, which will feature cats, dogs and other animals and their owners. Last year, the pets had the opportunity to perform tricks.
Ticket sales for the demolition derby begin at 9 a.m., and the derby will begin at 1 p.m.
“We’re hoping around 60 (cars) will be there,” said Stancombe, who is the demolition derby coordinator. “We’re having a tractor demolition derby, too, and we’re expecting around 30 of them.”
The event includes multiple heats.
Stancombe said that the last three cars running in the demolition win $200 and the chance to compete in the feature, where the first-place winner can win $1,000, the second-place winner can win $500 and the third place winner can win $200.
“Probably around 3,000 people every year,” he said, come to see the derby.
Don Huey is there helping tow the cars off, getting the track ready and “everything like that” with his equipment, he said, and in addition, the fire department volunteers and paramedics and trucks are available in case there’s a fire or someone gets hurt.
The lawn tractor derby has one heat, and Stancombe expects about 30 tractor-drivers to compete. The winner of the tractor derby receives $200.
Throughout the day, the celebration features vendors, face painting, clowns, games, entertainment, a mechanical bull, inflatable bouncing rides and a photo booth.
In addition, more than 20 vendors have been present for the event in the past, selling hamburgers, sausage sandwiches, funnel cakes and more.
The car cruise will be held from 1 to 5 p.m., with about 80 vehicles expected to be on display.
The most attended event during the celebration, Stancombe said, is by far the fireworks display held at dusk. Starfire Corp., of Northern Cambria, presents the traditional Independence Day fireworks display again this year.
“Probably around 20,000 go up to the grass,” he said. “Everything’s just filled, the grandstands filled. Of course a lot of people get up around the cemetery and on the hills.”
Volunteers, Stancombe said, play a big role in the celebration.
“We have them running ragged,” Stancombe said.
Volunteers mainly help to keep the fairgrounds clean during the events, helping with the 50/50 raffle, selling tickets and getting people in to the grounds.
“Most of the volunteers are really good,” he said.
The next day, volunteers help with post-celebration clean up.
“There’s always a mess afterwards,” he said.
The Lions Club is always looking for volunteers to help with the event.
“Any time any one wants to volunteer they can come down, we never turn them down,” Stancombe said.
Those who want to volunteer can also contact any local Lions Club member.