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Come Fourth: Ripley ready for Independence Day festivities

Ally Nicholson is a Ripley native who is returning home as she works with Gambill Amusements to set up the carnival for the Fourth of July celebration. The carnival will be near City Hall through Saturday. (Photo by Candice Black)

RIPLEY — Ripley’s reputation of “America’s Largest Small Town Independence Day Celebration” will live on as celebrations for the country’s birthday begin today and extend through Monday.

The tradition of a Fourth of July celebration dates back to the late 1800s and according to the Ripley Fourth of July website, it is the oldest parade and Independence Day Celebration in West Virginia.

Beginning today, carnival rides and games through Gambill Amusements will be set up near City Hall downtown and it will run through Saturday.

Ripley native Ally Nicholson works for Gambill and said she’s excited to be able to work the event she’s been going to her whole life.

“I’ve been here as a customer every year of my life and I started (working) at the beginning of June,” she said.

A smaller Independence Day event took place last year with drive-in concerts, a televised parade and a drive-in fireworks show.

“This year, we’re going to go as to close to normal as we can,” Ripley Mayor Carolyn Rader said.

The traditional and historic parade will feature a special guest, Hershey “Woody” Williams, as the grand marshal.

From pancakes and parades to bike parades and concerts, the events this weekend offer a variety to choose from. With the number of events taking place, Rader said the community has helped make it possible.

“As long as there’s air to breathe, I think Ripley is going to be the biggest (Fourth of July celebration),” Rader said. “We have to depend on generous local sponsors and people to help us out to make this happen. We want to be known as one of the most patriotic cities in America, it’s one of the greatest titles you could give. People in Ripley are really wonderful and they support everything we do.”

Concerts will take place on the courthouse lawn.

Candice Black can be reached at cblack@newsandsentinel.com.

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The schedule of events includes:

TODAY

* 8 p.m.: Charleston Metro Band

WEDNESDAY

* 6 p.m.: Bluegrass Gospel Night

THURSDAY

* 6 p.m.: Patriots on Wheels Bicycle Parade on North Street

* 6:30 p.m.: Rimshot

* 8 p.m.: Adam Tucker, Tim McGraw tribute

FRIDAY

* 6 p.m.: Ripley High School All-Class Reunion

Saturday:

* 7 a.m.: Pancake breakfast at Calvary United Methodist Church (by donation)

* 9 a.m.: Little Patriots Hour

* 10 a.m.: Opening ceremonies

* 11:30 a.m.: Firecracker 2-mile race

* Noon: Grand Parade

* 2 p.m.: Line dancing

* 4 p.m.: Ultrasound

* 6 p.m.: Rockland Road

* 8 p.m.: Dave & Daphne

* 10 p.m.: Fireworks

SUNDAY

* 6:30 p.m.: Rhett Walker- 6:30 p.m.

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