Emergency vehicle parade

MILLERS CREEK FIRE DEPARTMENT displays one of its trucks during the annual emergency vehicle parade.

Activities Thursday celebrating Independence Day will culminate with the annual fireworks display at North Wilkesboro’s Memorial Park, which begins about 9:15 p.m.

It will be preceded by the Town of North Wilkesboro’s Market Meltdown and the 28th annual Great American Fire Truck Parade through North Wilkesboro and Wilkesboro.

People typically start staking out prime viewing spots for the parade and fireworks in downtown North Wilkesboro with blankets and picnic baskets before noon. The parade and fireworks display usually bring thousands of people to the Wilkesboros.

The Meltdown starts at 6 p.m. with the Starlighters, a big swing band, performing patriotic tunes on the Window World stage at the Yadkin Valley Marketplace along North Wilkesboro’s Central Business District (CBD) Loop.

Crystal Keener, director of the Downtown North Wilkesboro Partnership and also the town’s tourism director, said the Starliters take a break about 7:30 p.m. and resume playing after the fire truck parade passes. Keener said the band will play until about the time the fireworks display starts.

She said food trucks will start serving at the Yadkin Valley Marketplace around 5:30 p.m. Food trucks there will include the Spice Is Right, Carolina Shaved Ice, KPs Kakes and a hand-squeezed lemonade stand.

The Fire Truck Parade begins about 8 p.m. at West Park in North Wilkesboro, with participating vehicles starting to arrive about 6 p.m. It’s presented by the Wilkes Fire & Rescue Association. A spokesman for that organization said candy will be handed out but not thrown.

With sirens blaring, the parade features firetrucks, ambulances, tow trucks and more. It goes right on D Street from West Park, right on the CBD Loop, right on Sixth Street at the end of the CBD Loop, right on Cherry Street to Wilkesboro Avenue to cross the Yadkin River bridge to Wilkesboro and then go down the Main Street of Wilkesboro before ending near the intersection of Curtis Bridge Road and Main Street.

The Wilkes Law Enforcement Officers Association presents the fireworks display, with the governments of Wilkes County, North Wilkesboro and Wilkesboro and the Wilkes Journal-Patriot as co-sponsors.

Lexington-based Hale Artificier Inc. will provide and set off the fireworks at Memorial Park. The North Wilkesboro Fire Department will be on hand as a safety measure. Police will be out in force to help direct traffic.

The rain date for the Memorial Park fireworks display is Friday evening. The forecast is calling for a chance of afternoon showers Thursday.

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