Rachael Van Horn
Woodward, Okla. —
It is an unseasonably cool 90 degrees in Laverne on the Friday before the week of the small town’s most well established holiday, the Fourth of July.
Sweat drips from the chin of one man, as he shovels asphalt into an area where the crew laid brand new water line to serve businesses in the Laverne Business district and a child rides her bike down the sidewalk, stopping to peer into shop windows.
It is the scene of small towns all over America as they prepare for what are always the best kinds of Fourth of July celebrations, said Terri Wheeler, Chamber of Commerce director.
“Laverne has always been well known to have the best of the best Fourth of July celebration,” Wheeler said.
Each year, the party gets bigger and offers more opportunity for more people to come and enjoy, she said.
This year, the celebration got so big, the Fourth of July Event Committee decided the celebration was just too big for one day and so they decided to start early, Wheeler said.
The games will begin July 3, at the Laverne High School gymnasium with a 5-on-5 basketball tournament at 6 p.m. Simultaneously, there will be a hot dog feed and at 6:30 p.m. bicycle racers will line up for any of the three races they choose to enter; the 10 mile bicycle race, the three mile trail ride and the one mile fun ride/walk/stroller derby.
At 7 p.m., the Lucky Duck Race will begin as Laverne volunteer firefighters fill up their water trucks and create the racing river in the middle of Jane Jayroe Boulevard for all those numbered and sponsored lucky rubber duckies. Money raised benefits the Laverne Main Street Association and the first 6 places receive prizes.
At dusk will be the first time ever “Movie in the Park” located at the Pocket Park next door to the Chamber office. The movie and popcorn are free.
Beginning on the Fourth, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. will be the yearly pancake breakfast sponsored by the Lion’s Club at the park pavilion. Throughout the morning at the park will be volleyball and basket ball competitions as well as a flea market.
The annual Fourth of July parade starts at 10 a.m.
At 11:30 a.m., is the Murphy’s “Hogg’n the Dog” hot dog eating contest at the park stadium. If all that eatin’ makes you hungry, then stay at the park from noon to 2 p.m. and eat lunch sponsored by the United Methodist Youth. Turtle races are at 1:30 p.m.
From 2 p.m through all the way to dark time, there are events that include everything from golf tournaments, swim meets, flag ceremony, Hose shoe pitchin’ and finally the first ever Homemade Ice Cream Contest judged by Laverne’s own “Fab Five” Wheeler said.
“We will have a five man judging team there and when I got these men to judge, there were women who were pregnant who said they deserved a chance to judge,” Wheeler said laughing. “But this year, it will be the five men.”
Finally at dark, the Laverne volunteer fire fighters will put on a $15,000 fireworks show.
“You know, that more people come home to Laverne to be with family for the Fourth of July than even come home at Homecoming,” Wheeler said. “I say to everyone, even if you are not from Laverne, come to our Fourth of July because it is the best ever.”
But that might get some good natured push back if you talk to Buffalo’s Chamber of Commerce Secretary Jarie Coggins.
The Buffalo celebration has some firsts too this year, she said.
“We decided to begin ours in the morning and have events until 1 p.m.,” Coggins said. “That way we are out of the afternoon heat.”
Beginning at 8 a.m. there will be open registration at Hoefer Park for the Annual Everybody Softball Tournament which begins at 9 a.m.
Simultaneously, there will also be events at Celebration Park that include a dunk tank, Blind Man Golf Cart Races, Turtle Races and an egg toss.
On hand to keep folks from getting parched or a little too hungry will be Hands of Love and Nana’s Famous Old Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls as well as other vendors.
At 10:30 a.m. the Cool Watermelon Feed will begin just in time to get comfy for the live entertainment by Cliff Shelder.
At 11:45 a.m. there will be a flag presentation and the National Anthem will be performed by Briseida Sarabia.
At noon, you can feast on free hot dogs and hamburgers.
From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. there will be free swim at the City Pool and at 5 p.m. there will be a free screening of the movie Mega Mind playing at the Buffalo Theater.
At dark time, fireworks will commence at Hoefer Park.