Marshall volunteers prepare for Fourth of July festivities at Fountain Circle

MARSHALL – A network of dedicated community volunteers and benefactors is forming that will make the Fountain Circle the place to be on the Fourth of July.

Events will get under way a little earlier in the week as the annual “Cruise to the Fountain” gets into gear. That event be held Friday and Saturday, July 3-4, at the Calhoun County Fairgrounds in Marshall. For more information, visit www.cruiseatthefountain.com.

Young people who want to be part of the 2015 Oaklawn Pet, Bike, & Wagon Parade are being encouraged to register as soon as possible, and several options are available.

The parade will step off at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 4, at Brooks Memorial Fountain, as part of the city’s Independence Day observance. Last year’s event drew about 200 participants.

There is no fee to participate in the parade, but registration is required. To be assured of participation in the parade, registrations are urged by June 30.

Registrations are being accepted online at www.oaklawnhospital.org/pet-bike-wagon-parade, where complete rules and regulations also may be viewed.

Those who wish to register by mail or in person may obtain forms at the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce at City Hall, 323 W. Michigan Ave., and at Oaklawn’s Development Office at 116 E. Prospect St.

Children ages 3 through 12 are invited to create costumes and decorations that reflect the Independence Day celebration. A parent’s authorization is required in order for any child to participate in the parade. All animals must be properly caged or leashed.

Ribbons will be presented to all participants, plus first-, second- and third-place honors awarded in each of the categories – pets, bikes and wagons.

For additional information, contact the hospital’s Development Office at (269) 789-3942.

The parade will be followed at the Fountain Circle by the raising of the American flag by members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4073. Then, at 11 a.m., a lunch featuring barbecued chicken, hotdogs and ice creamwill get under way, along with a performance by the Marshall Rotary Community Band.

The band performs several outdoor concerts in warm weather, during which 45 to 50 local musicians play show tunes, marches, ragtime, Dixieland and traditional concert pieces. The concert during the Marshall barbecue typically is its best-attended event.

A team of about 30 volunteers will work prior to the event to ensure that all will be in readiness to feed about 900 hungry people during the barbecue.

 “We have a group of people who really love to participate,” said Mark O’Connell, interim president of Kellogg Community College and this year’s community organizer for the annual barbecue. “The secret is in the setup. Once you get that in place, everything goes smoothly and it’s almost like clockwork.”

”  Oaklawn has sponsored the parade for many years, and this year we’re excited to help support the chicken barbeque and it’s wonderful group of long service and dedicated volunteers.  We certainly hope that our assistance with this most fantastically Marshall July 4th kick-off event will only enhance an already great tradition” said Mike Beck, who directs Oaklawn’s Development and Marketing teams.

Additional sponsors include the Marshall Community Credit Union, Walters Dimmick Petroleum,  Bud’s Towing, Winston Park Shell, Chemical Bank, HBC Marshall Banking Center and Hemmingsen Drug Store.

For the first time, net proceeds from the barbecue will be donated to the Marshall Rotary Club and the Marshall-based Fountain Clinic, Beck said. The clinic is a medical service that assists those who are uninsured and under-insured who cannot afford necessary medical care.

Chicken-dinner tickets at $9 and hotdog-dinner tickets at $5 will be sold in advance at the downtown branch of Chemical Bank, Family Fare, HBC Marshall Banking Center, Handle & Hinge, Hemmingsen’s Drug Store, Winston Park Shell, VintEdge, the Marshall Welcome Center at City Hall and the Oaklawn Hospital Development Office on Prospect Street