Alpena is a favorite destination for visitors during the summer months, especially during the Fourth of July. There is a noticeably festive spirit in the air as Alpena celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

Tiffanie McConnell sand castle

Sand Sculptures at Starlite Beach (photo courtesy Tiffany McConnell)

For our community, the excitement begins as early as March, when the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce starts their annual fireworks fundraiser. The free community fireworks show can be seen for miles and thousands gather at parks and beaches along the shores of Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay to watch the spectacular show.

The fun doesn’t begin with just the fireworks, though. There is a plethora of activities to enjoy at Alpena’s Fourth of July celebration! Participants of The Alpena News’ annual sandcastle contest starts as early as 8 a.m. at Starlite Beach, with spectators watching throughout the day as stunning creations take form.  9 a.m. marks the start of the Dork Brothers Independence Day Race. Early birds love to gather friends and family to participate.

Katelyn Carr

Alpena Boat Harbor’s American Flag (photo Katelyn Carr)

Next up, of course, is the Lafarge 4th of July Parade! The parade starts at 11 a.m. from the Alpena County Fairgrounds, and winds its glory down the crowd filled streets, ending at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Don’t forget to buy your ticket during the parade for your chance to win the Alpena Optimist Rubber Ducky Race that begins right after the parade! The rubber ducks are released from the 9th Street Bridge and float down the Thunder Bay River to Rotary Island Mill Park.

Cardboard Boat Regatta

Cardboard Boat Regatta

After the parade, while you are near the river, follow the Heritage Trail across the bridge to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary for the Maritime Festival. This free community event provides live music on the main stage, kid’s games and crafts, and best yet: the annual Cardboard Boat Regatta! You might want to head back to Starlite Beach to check out the winning creations of the sandcastle contest, or stop at one of Alpena’s ice cream shops for a cool treat in between activities.

Hope to see you there!