Ishpeming gears up for 4th of July events

ISHPEMING – The Ishpeming 4th of July Committee is still welcoming vendors to sign up for its annual July 4 picnic at Al Quaal Recreation Area, and is still accepting donations to help fund the variety of fun events that take place in the city throughout Independence Day.

“Right now our donations are down a little bit,” said Paul Bonetti, who chairs the committee. “… (and) we still need more vendors to sign up.”

For Bonetti, the holiday – for all of the city’s past 35 years of celebrating with the parade and the Al Quaal picnic – has been a time of year that really shows how the local community comes together. The festivities require roughly 60 volunteers to help organize and tackle a number of tasks: the city’s department of public works helps with set up and clean up, both the Ishpeming and Ishpeming Township fire departments handle the fireworks display at Al Quaal and about 20 people alone coordinate the floats and vehicles that roll down Third Street for the morning’s parade.

“For the parade, the (Ishpeming) police have estimated between 9,000 and 10,000 people along the parade route, and we had between 800 and 1,000 participants just in the parade alone,” Bonetti said.

“Obviously it’s a big parade … A lot of people plan their vacation around the 4th of July.”

This year, the parade’s grand marshal will be Ishpeming Hematites coach Jeff Olson, who will lead the parade with football players from teams both past and present.

On Thursday, July 3, a reception honoring Olson and all of his players will take place at 11 a.m. at the Ishpeming High School.

Many of the city’s holiday events wouldn’t be possible without monetary support from residents and local businesses, and Bonetti praised both, whose generous donations he said have always helped the committee meet their $20,000 in expenses.

“They’ve been just great, and they support it,” he said. “They really have supported us well.”

The day’s biggest expense by far, Bonetti said, is the fireworks, which cost about $10,000. This year’s display will feature a grand finale that’s a little different from past years: the rockets will be launched simultaneously from two separate sites.

“As soon as they go up, they’ll light up the whole sky. I’ve been wanting to do this for years and we just never got around to it,” he said. “I’m excited to see it. We’ve never done it before, so we don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but I think it’s going to be just fine.”

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.