The Independence Day celebration in Granville is just a few days away, but the planning for Licking County’s biggest July 4 event has been underway since the last one ended.

Jerry and Lesa Miller organize the annual celebration on behalf of the Granville Kiwanis club, which has hosted the event as a community service since 1964. It’s a year-’round effort to bring together fireworks, live entertainment, games, food, a mile-long parade, and people from surrounding towns for the four-day event each year. Jerry, wearing his Kiwanis hat, said that he started planning for 2022 in July – “that’s July of last year.”

Signature activities during the four-day celebration are the street fair, parade and fireworks. The midway rides, games and food stands will open at noon on Friday, July 1. Fireworks will be at Wildwood Park at 10 p.m. on July 1, with live music featuring the big band sounds of Conspiracy Band starting at the park starting at 8 p.m. The parade, with the theme parade theme is “Create a Better Future,” will step off at 10:45 a.m. on Monday, July 4. (Deadline to enter the parade is Friday, June 24.)

The parade will be followed by music and rides, and the popular “Games for All Ages” will take place on Broadway at 3:30 p.m. that afternoon. 

The games include a sack race, three-legged race, egg carry and egg toss. And in a scene out of a Norman Rockwell painting, everyone from toddlers to senior citizens take part.

The full schedule of events can be found online at And updates are available on the Kiwanis Facebook page at:

Lesa Miller serves as program director for The Granville Recreation District. The couple and an army of volunteers from Granville Kiwanis and other local organizations work to set up, coordinate and clean up. Planning the celebration takes a lot of collaboration and communication with village officials. “We’re always continuously talking to the village, because this doesn’t happen unless the village is on board with it,” Lesa said. 

Other important paperwork is completed, too, including three permits for the fireworks at Wildwood Park, road closures, and the parade. Both Jerry and Lesa attended the Fourth of July celebration as kids, and in the 1990s, they got to watch their own kids enjoy the celebration.

“And you realize that this stuff just doesn’t doesn’t just happen. Somebody has to step up and say, ‘I’m gonna take charge, and I’ll do it,’” Jerry said, explaining why he volunteered to help with the Fourth of July Parade. 

“It’s kind of nice that we could kind of split responsibilities. And we’ve worked together on a lot of things,” Lesa said. She said that she and Jerry committed five years to planning the celebration. “So next year is our last year,” Lesa said. 

But the Millers always have things in mind for special touches in the programming.

“This year, we wanted to bring in McGuffey Lane,” Jerry said, referring to an enduring, popular country rock band from Columbus that will play on the Broadway stage at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 2. Jerry is in charge of the entertainment side of the celebration with the entertainment committee. Also, he said the rides are always a new setup each year. 

Police Chief William Caskey and his team also have been planning a long time for the event since. 

“We start our planning for the next year the day after it ends in the current year,” Caskey said.  “We do an after action review, and determine what worked well, and where we can improve.  We do discuss the events and take advice and assistance from other state and local agencies.”

“Planning includes safety concerns, traffic issues, communications, staffing, and a host of other details,” Caskey said. One of those concerns is traffic and safe driving, especially with road closures. “We try during our setup to devise a system which minimizes the potential harm if a driver should make a mistake or lose control.” The police department receives advice from federal and safety experts. 

Not only does the Fourth of July bring together families from Granville and surrounding towns, but the planning itself also has its own personal rewards for Jerry and Lesa. 

“You know, the one best thing is, it’s been with people. You establish lifelong friendships when you’re out there on trash (duty), because the Kiwanis members and the high school kids, we’re the ones out there sweeping the streets,” Jerry said. Each night, volunteers clean up after the day, a perfect time to get to know each other during the quieter hours. 

Chief Caskey urged those participating in the parade this year to hand out candy instead of throwing it to spectators to prevent kids from running into the street. “We also ask that everyone remain patient at the end of the fireworks, as it takes time to get our visitors safely out of town. Slow down, stay off the phone, and relax. We will get everyone out of the area as quickly as possible,” Caskey said. 

As for weather, the Millers are mindful of both the importance of events to visitors and the need to be safe. One year, a lightning storm was reportedly moving in from the west, and that sent the Kiwanis members meeting for a game-time decision based on all the available information. In that case, the storm was deemed far enough away to move forward. “And you just go: ‘No, we’re not [canceling the parade]  and ended up putting it on and it was fine,’” Jerry said. 

The Kiwanis note on their website that “the parade is rain or shine. The only thing stopping us will be the presence of lightning.”

2021’s fireworks ceremony.

Schedule of Events:

Downtown Granville
Noon – Midway concessions, rides open
2-3 p.m. – Central Ohio Youth Ballet
3-4:30 p.m. – Mary Miller and Bill Baxter Page
4:30-6 p.m. – Granville High School A Cappella Concert & Electric Strings
6:30-8:30 p.m. – Fish Market Band
11 p.m. – Midway closes
Wildwood Park
8-10 p.m. – Party in the Park, featuring the big band sounds of Conspiracy Band
Sponsored by Granville Investment Group
10 p.m. – Fireworks from Rozzi’s Fireworks Sponsored by The Granville Community

Downtown Granville
Noon – Midway concessions, rides open
1-2 p.m. – Caroline and Dad
2-3 p.m. – Austin Finley
3-4 p.m. – Millennium Dancers
4-5 p.m. – The Millennium House Band
5:30-7:30 p.m. – Granville’s Got Talent
6-10 p.m. – Bingo at Opera House Park
8-10 p.m. – McGuffey Lane sponsored by Duchess Convenience Stores
11 p.m. – Midway closes

Downtown Granville
Noon – Midway concessions, rides open
1-2 p.m. – Yellow Rose Cloggers
2-3 p.m. – EnglishBarr
3-4:00 p.m. – Land Of Legend Barbershop Chorus
4-6 p.m. – Granville High School Jazz Band Concert
6-8 p.m. – Granville High School Steel Drum Band Concert

6-10 p.m. – Bingo at Opera House Park
8-10 p.m. – Barefoot McCoy and Friends sponsored by Cherry Valley Hotel
11 p.m. – Midway closes

Downtown Granville
7:45 a.m. – Firecracker Five race sponsored by Granville Rotary
10:30 a.m. – Decorated Bicycle Contest Judging at Thresher/Broadway
10:45 a.m. – Mile-Long Parade begins
Noon – Midway concessions, rides open
12:30-1:30 p.m. – Mary and Emma Borgia
2-3 p.m. – Licking County 4-H Band Concert
3:30-5:30 p.m. – “Games for All Ages,” sponsored by the Granville Rec District
5:30-6 p.m. – Patriotic Pet Contest
6- 6:30 p.m. – Line Dance Instruction
6:30-8:00 p.m. – M2B Band Country Music and Line Dancing
8 p.m. – 2022 Fourth of July Celebration Ends