CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Just about every city and town — large and small — here in West Virginia has some sort of Fourth of July event. But this year, two towns claim to have the very best Independence Day celebration.
In one corner, you have Ripley in Jackson County. In the other corner, you have Alderson in Greenbrier and Monroe counties. Officials in both say their celebrations are the biggest and best.
“We have one of the largest parades with horses and fire trucks, floats, old-timey cars. All the good things that are in a parade,” said Greg Eary, one of the organizers of the Alderson event.
Hold those horses! Carolyn Rader, the mayor of Ripley, is convinced her town has the best July 4th festivities.
“On the Fourth of July, it just all comes together and this little, wonderful, beautiful city of 3,500 becomes about 15,000 to 20,000 people,” she said.
Eary said Alderson is expecting around 10,000 for their big fireworks display Friday night, so the crowd totals go to Ripley.
But when it comes to the number of events, Alderson has the upper hand. They started celebrating on Wednesday and the party isn’t over until Sunday. On the agenda a 5-K run, field games, flea market, banquet, fireman’s rodeo, a square dance, health fair, canoe races as well as the parade and fireworks.
Whether you choose to go to one, the other or both, you can’t go wrong. The two celebrations have the most important aspect of the holiday in common — that patriotic feeling.
“Oh my gosh, you can just feel the excitement in the air! American flags everywhere, store windows are all decorated, everybody joins in,” said Rader.
As for Alderson, Eary said, “Our community just joins together and does a terrific job!”
For more information about Ripley’s Independence Day celebration log on to ripley4thofjuly.us. And you can log on to alderson4th.com to find out what’s happening in Alderson.