There is no better way to celebrate America’s independence than by sitting in the blazing sun on the main drag of La Porte on the Fourth of July, alongside thousands of fellow community members. Parade-goers are decked out in red, white and blue, and patiently wait for the trail of floats, dancers, motorcyclists, musicians and many more performers to soon fill the street.
This Fourth of July marks the 69th Annual La Porte Jaycees 4th of July Parade, which will include 113 parade participants with the new addition of Grand Celebration Marshals, The Henningsons, Grand Parade Marshals, LPHS Marching Band, LPHS Slicer Football Team and the New Prairie Cougar Football Team. The Honorary Parade Marshals are Justin Kiel, Matthew Bartels and Joey Tomal, the 2015 La Porte High School’s Valedictorian and Salutatorian, respectively.
The process to perfect the parade is tedious and time-consuming. After May 1, the work intensifies, as the push to finalize parade entries is stronger than ever. Jaycees then constructs a map explaining where all units will line up.
While cleaning up on July 5, members discuss the highs and the lows of the event. They are written down, analyzed and are then used to improve next year’s parade. All of this is done solely by volunteers.
This year, La Porte Jaycees have partnered with Bethany Lutheran Church, who will be raffling off a 2015 Jeep Wrangler. They will also be hosting a concert featuring The Henningsons before the firework display. The fireworks will be held at the La Porte County Fairgrounds at 9:30 p.m.
La Porte’s Fourth of July celebration is only one of many experiences made possible by the La Porte Jaycees, a young person’s organization that creates positive changes within the community by planning and directing programs for others to engage and participate in.
“[Being a part of Jaycees] means involvement. The Jaycees sling shot members into the community on many levels. We have the opportunity to work with the government, businesses, schools, non-profit [organizations], healthcare and so forth,” said Carrie Campbell, President of La Porte Jaycees.
The La Porte Jaycees is one of over 6,700 Jaycee chapters that are still active in America today.
The organization is made up of several men and women ages 18-40 that look to improve themselves, enjoy volunteering within the community and associating themselves with others who share similar interests. Together, their efforts construct successful community-centered events.
“The Jaycees is a volunteer organization. Events like the Fourth of July Celebration take hundreds of man hours to organize. Without the support of all of our members, partners and the community, we would not be able to have these events,” said Joy Zigler, Jaycees’ Management Vice President and Fourth of July Chairperson.
Jaycee projects focus on management development, individual development and community development. Jaycee members share characteristics such as leadership, devotion and care.
Examples of their projects include an annual Easter Egg Hunt, a Backpack Drive, a Candidates Forum, a Deserving Children’s Shopping Tour. It also plans the Fourth of July celebration that includes an Arts & Crafts Festival, the parade and a fireworks display.
“The diversity of our many projects and those we target develop our membership. Together, as Jaycees, we remain involved to create a larger impact in our communities,” said Campbell.
With the Fourth of July just around the corner, the La Porte Jaycees celebrates two days leading up to the parade and fireworks with their annual Beer Barns. These Beer Barns, which are held at the La Porte County Fairgrounds, are concerts with a variety of music that appeal to people of all ages.
The first one will feature Middle of the Road band on Thursday, July 2, from 7:00 – 11:00 p.m. at the La Porte County Fairgrounds. Anyone ages 21 or over may enter with a valid photo ID. Gates open at 6:00 p.m.
The second concert in the series will highlight the band Sushi Roll, which will perform on Friday, July 3. It will be the same time and place as Thursday’s concert.