By Lindsay Doty
It’s summertime in Pittsboro, and hometown resident Keith Gurley sees red, white and blue.
He’s in full-blast preparation mode for the upcoming Pittsboro Freedom Celebration — an annual Fourth of July town event organized by the Hendricks County Young Marines.
“It’s been fun to watch it grow and watch the town rally to make sure we meet our fundraising goals,” Gurley, Hendricks County Young Marines Unit Commander, said.
The organization took over the dying parade six years ago and it’s been growing ever since. They’ve added a Fourth of July festival at Scamahorn Park followed by a fireworks show.
“If you look at the kids’ faces, it is a no brainer that it needs to be done. I’m proud to do it,” Gurley said, embracing the idea of a small town celebrating the nation’s birthday together. “It’s a lot of work, and it usually involves me picking up the park on the fifth by myself, but that’s just part of it.”
This year, the festival will include a free concert by the Farm Hands, a nationally-known bluegrass band along with local country band Background 39. The fair will also have food, vendors and activities for the family.
As part of the community effort, every year the Young Marines collect donations for a local charitable cause. This year they will be fundraising for the family of Annalise Ireland. The 13-year-old from Pittsboro recently passed away from a rare form of cancer.
“The Young Marines are really about helping people. I decided we are always going to pick up a cause,” said Gurley.
Nicknamed “Bitty,” there will be a “Bittyland” set up in Annalise’s honor with bounce houses and children’s activities. It’s $5 to play all day with all donations going back to the family.
Donation buckets will also be scattered around the park to help her family with medical expenses.
Community members and businesses, like Pittsboro’s David A. Hall Mortuary, have already stepped up. The funeral home pledged $1,000 in memory of the little girl.
“This is truly is a remarkable community filled with love, care and support of one another,” funeral director Eric Bell said. “We encourage you all to give and support the festival in her memory.”
As the Pittsboro Freedom Celebration inches closer, organizers have been busy with setting up and last-minute details. Gurley is thankful to live in a community where people come together to make the celebration a memorable one.
“I hope we can sit back and say, ‘Wow, we really accomplished something and we’ve made people happy,’” he said.
Pittsboro Freedom Celebration
Parade starts at 2 p.m.
Scamahorn Park opens at 3 p.m.
Concert: 7 p.m.
Fireworks show: 10 p.m.
Free vendor space still available. Contact Keith Gurley at 317-289-6682.