Wednesday’s 4th of July Honor America Celebration at Pekin Memorial Stadium will mark Pekin’s 71st public Independence Day event.
The tradition began in 1948, according to Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bill Fleming, when local community and business leaders returning from service in World War II began organizing Fourth of July fireworks shows.
Local businesses have traditionally funded most of the celebration, with the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce raising the remainder of the cost through vendor sales and a small admission charge. Fleming estimated that this year’s pyrotechnics will cost approximately $17,000. Nearly 60 Pekin-area businesses have contributed approximately $14,000.
“You can view the fireworks throughout Mineral Springs Park and through much of Pekin,” said Fleming. “There is always a ground display that you can see only from inside the stadium. There are usually about 4,000 inside the stadium on a typical Fourth of July, and the park is always full. So, a lot of people come.”
Although the Honor America Celebration has become a rather large affair in its 70-year history, one of its greatest attractions is that it has retained the friendly feel of a small community get-together, Fleming added.
“It’s a more intimate community event than some of the bigger shows out there,” he said. “People who go can be sure of meeting friends or family there. Everybody seems to enjoy it, including staff and volunteers. It can be a long hot day, especially if you’re working the event, but it always ends on a fun note.”
In addition to a fireworks display, event sponsors and the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce will offer concessions by Paco’s Tacos and Bill’s Lemonade and vending booths selling Pekin Kiwanis Kettle Corn, Pepsi products and glow necklaces. The two-piece pop rock band Avid Whistler will provide entertainment.
Gates to Pekin Memorial Stadium, which is located in the 1800 block of Court Street, will open at 6 p.m. Wednesday. A short program will begin at 9 p.m., and the fireworks will follow. The program will include the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the reciting of The Pledge of Allegiance, and remarks from Pekin Mayor John McCabe, Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce President Scott Kriegsman and 2017 Miss Marigold Hope Tilstra. Pekin Community High School ROTC students will also conduct a flag-lowering ceremony.
Admission to the event will be $5 for adults, $1 for children ages 6 to 12, and free to children under 5. An alternative rain date will be Thursday. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce.