Get ready because Oneonta's First Night Committee is ready to throw one big, family-fun party to celebrate our community's resilience and country's birth on the weekend of July 4th in Neahwa Park. This year's Hometown 4th Festival will be dedicated to our hometown heroes - essential workers who worked tirelessly and put themselves on the line for us all during the pandemic.

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Typically, the July 4th celebration is a one-day event but this year, it kicks off on Friday, July 2nd in Neahwa Park at 7:30 p.m. with a free, country music concert featuring Michael Christopher, an up and coming country music artist who has opened for big-name music artists like Tyler Farr, Sammy Kershaw, Lonestar, Chris Lane, Jamey Johnson, Phil Vassar, William Michael Morgan and Walker Hayes. Find out more about this Pennsylvania native at michaelchristophercountry.com.

The big celebration continues on July 4, starting at 1:00 p.m. with a parade down Oneonta's Main Street. The First Night Oneonta Committee is looking for any essential workers who worked with the public during the pandemic to walk in the parade to be recognized. Essential worker groups from local businesses are certainly welcome in the parade. If you would like to join in the parade so the community has an opportunity to thank you, please email firstnightoneonta@gmail.com. According to event organizers, essential workers can pick up a badge at the parade or during the event in Neahwa Park to qualify for a prize drawing to be held right before the fireworks that night in the park.

Parade organizers are also looking for community members to operate and carry the giant puppets we have all come to know and love that have been made over the years. Anyone interested in being in the parade in some capacity can reach out and e-mail firstnightoneonta@gmail.com. Parade participants will start parade lineup at Foothills Performing Arts Center beginning at noon that day.

Following the parade, the fun continues at Neahwa Park, Oneonta where for years and years, people from all over the area have been coming on our nation's birthday, to enjoy an alcohol-free celebration with free admission. You'll get everything from food vendors, live music, dance, kids' activities, arts and crafts and other entertainment. Plan on bringing lawn chairs to come and enjoy the day in the park since there will be plenty to enjoy.

Of course, it wouldn't be a complete celebration of Independence Day if we didn't have fireworks to enjoy. That will happen around 9:30 pm. But wait...feel free to stick around in the park after the fireworks because there will be an after party with Cosmic Karma Fire Spinners.

Keep an eye on the Hometown 4th Festival facebook page for updates.

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