MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Smith Park will be alive with activity on the ground and in the sky this summer.
Two major entertainment events — a fireworks show and a hot air balloon festival — are returning this July after they were cancelled last year due to health concerns during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Independence Day Festival will be held from 4-11 p.m. July 3 at Smith Park, and the Ohio Challenge Hot Air Balloon Festival will be held July 16-17 at Smith Park.
The Independence Day Festival will feature food and beer vendors, live entertainment from three bands, performances from Team Fastrax, a professional skydiving team based in Middletown, and pyrotechnics from Yokum Fireworks, according to city officials.
The event is free and open to the public.
Shuttle service will be provided to Smith Park from downtown parking lots and those riding on the buses will be required to wear masks, said Shelby Quinlivan, spokeswoman for the city.
The fireworks, sponsored by Kettering Health Network, start at 9:45 p.m.
David Pearce, organizer of the Ohio Challenge, said the event will include about 20 hot air balloons, food and beverage vendors, and fireworks shows on both nights with July 17 being “more robust.”
He said no balloon rides or tethered balloon rides will be offered.
Pearce said the balloon event will be “back to normal” after Gov, Mike DeWine asked the Ohio Department of Health to remove most coronavirus-related health orders on June 2, including the mask mandate, social distancing guidelines, and capacity restrictions for indoor and outdoor events.
“This is wonderful, great,” Pearce said. “It will be great to be outdoors and get together as a community and see our friends.”
By this time, Pearce said, planning for the balloon event typically is further along, but he’s “very confident” everything will be in place soon.
Spectators can either park at the airport and pay $15 per carload with free shuttle service or walk into Smith Park and pay $5. Children under 13 are free.