Bringing back July 4th festivities


By Amanda Tonoli

atonoli@vindy.com

AUSTINTOWN

Austintown patriotism has been reignited with the largest Fourth of July committee since 2006.

The Austintown Township community will commemorate the 40th anniversary of Fourth of July festivities Tuesday by setting the celebration apart from other surrounding areas, organizers say.

“The Fourth of July in Austintown is something unexplainable to people in other communities,” said Austintown Township Trustee Jim Davis. “Austintown is just a community that comes together.”

In 1976, founders of the celebration came together to set up a variety of events leading up to an Independence Day parade July 4.

The tradition continued until 2006 when the committee in charge of the celebration disbanded, leaving the events to fall by the wayside for six years.

In 2013, Davis said with much community encouragement he decided to reignite Independence Day celebrations.

Edward Reese, CEO of EDM Management and Briarfield Healthcare Centers, stepped up to make the first donation of $8,000 to bring back fireworks.

He lit the fuse that led to an explosion of community donors, including Huntington Bank, Talmer Bank, California Palms and Suites, Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course and many more.

Fourth of July celebrations last five days – this year it will be Tuesday through Monday – with a different event each day.

Davis said the Austintown business community funds almost the entire five-day celebration costing about $30,000 with the exception of police and fire personnel costs.

“Each year it just grew and grew and grew into something bigger,” he said.

He works to add something new to the festivities every year. This year’s addition comes from the business community’s new addition, Planet Fitness.

Planet Fitness will sponsor the Freedom 5K race, reinventing the Fun Run. At 7 p.m. Thursday, from the 9/11 Memorial Park, 1051 S. Raccoon Road, to Fitch High School, 4560 Falcon Drive, participants can “walk it, run it, skip it or jump it,” Davis said, for a $20 donation to benefit local cross country teams. Registration begins at 6 p.m.

Participants will also get to meet Ray Housteau, a 2005 participant on television’s “The Amazing Race.”

Davis said proceeds from any event that isn’t free are recycled back to some form of charity to a local organization.

“It makes me feel good knowing we were able to bring it back,” Davis said.

Parade Chairman Chris Lewis agreed.

“It means so much to so many people, and knowing I can carry on the legacy those residents who were so instrumental in putting the celebration together in 1976,” he said.

Davis said the best way to honor the founders is by “making each year the best that we can.”

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