Arlington's July Fourth parade will march, rain or shine

ARLINGTON -- It may indeed rain on Arlington's Independence Day parade.

Saturday's forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms, but organizer June Owens says the show will go on regardless.

"Bring your umbrellas and raincoats. We've never canceled the parade due to the weather," said Owens, president of the not-for-profit Arlington Fourth of July Parade Association.

The theme of the 45th annual parade, billed as one of the largest July Fourth parades in Texas, is "America: Yesterday, Today and Forever." The parade starts at 9 a.m. downtown. A free concert and fireworks show will be held after dark.

More than 50,000 spectators are expected to turn out for the parade, which will feature more than 3,000 participants and 130 entries, including floats, marching bands, drill teams, antique cars and skateboarders.

The parade will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America, Owens said. Three generations of Eagle Scouts -- Dr. Thomas Hellier Jr., son Clark Hellier and grandson Kyle -- will be the grand marshals.

Owens encouraged parade watchers to arrive early and give themselves time to find parking.

Construction work will close traditional parking and viewing areas on the east side of Pecan Street this year. Free parking will be available at the University of Texas at Arlington.

"We have people that camp out overnight to get their favorite spot," said Owens, adding that Center Street is a good one.

The city's second annual Light Up Arlington festival will begin at 6 p.m. downtown with music, children's activities, vendors and food. Country singer Melissa Lawson is scheduled to perform at 8:45 p.m. at the Levitt Pavilion, across from City Hall. The fireworks show, which organizers say will be bigger and louder than last year's, starts at 9:45 p.m.

"People will feel it, definitely," said festival organizer Michael Debrecht, adding that the show will be similar to those seen at Lake Arlington in previous years. "It's going to be a totally different show than last year."

The 21-minute fireworks show will be set to music on KTCU/88.7 FM, he said. The parking lot north of City Hall will be closed because of the fireworks but the adjacent library lot will be open, he said.

The show and festival were underwritten by Chesapeake Energy, the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation and smaller donors, Debrecht said.

SUSAN SCHROCK, 817-390-7639