Marching 100

Members of Belton High School's famous Marching 100 band salute as they march past the Bell County Courthouse during the annual Fourth of July parade in Belton.

BELTON — There may be a century’s worth of Fourth of July Parades here, but organizers still want to make it better.

That’s what Belton Area Chamber of Commerce President Randy Pittenger told the Temple Kiwanis Club on Tuesday.

One change the Chamber is striving toward is having everyone along the parade route take part in the National Anthem when the parade starts at 10 a.m. Thursday. The anthem will be played at the courthouse, with speakers along the parade route — where, Pittenger said, people save their spot often days ahead of time.

An hour before the parade starts at 9 a.m., the Chamber will hold its annual Patriotic Program at the Bell County Courthouse, 101 E. Central Ave. Lt. Gen. Pat White, the III Corps and Fort Hood commander, will be the featured speaker at the event, said Stephanie O’Banion, a member of the Chamber’s board of directors.

White replaced Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, who served as commanding general of Fort Hood from March 2017 to June. White most recently served as the director of operations of the United States European Command.

The Fourth of July Parade is the centerpiece of a weeklong American celebration hosted by the Belton Chamber.

Parade route

The route begins on Main Street in front of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and heads south to Central Avenue. There, the parade will turn east on Central Avenue until turning south on Birdwell Street — where the parade will end near the Belton Police Station.

The parade’s theme is “100 Years in Belton.”

“The parade has been such an important part of our community for generations, and the many wonderful family traditions that are celebrated make this something we can all look forward to,” Pittenger said.

Pete Fredenburg, the coach of the two-time national champion UMHB’s Crusader football team, is the parade’s grand marshal.

The parade became an annual event starting in 1919 — months after the end of World War I. It originally was an afterthought to the city’s Independence Day celebrations.

A century later, the parade is recognized across the nation. USA Today in 2008 named it as one of the United States’ top Fourth of July parades. An estimated 30,000 people will watch the parade.

Festival on Nolan Creek

Following the parade, the Chamber will host its annual Festival on Nolan Creek at Yettie Polk Park, 101 S. Davis St. The events will have shopping, activities for children and food vendors.

The annual Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo also begins Thursday and runs through Saturday at the Bell County Expo Center, 301 W. Loop 121. Rodeo tickets are $15 for adults, and $12 for children ages 2 to 12, seniors, active and retired military. Tickets are available at rodeobelton.com; at the Bell County Expo Center; or by calling 512-474-5664.

The Chamber will host a backyard party at Schoepf’s Bar-B-Que, 702 E. Central Ave., 6-9:45 p.m. on Thursday. Pittenger said there will be fireworks shot off from the Belton Police Department.

Pittenger highlighted a new event to this year’s jamboree: the Penelope Street Patriot Fest, which will be noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets are $20 for adults; $5 for children 6 to 12; and free for children younger than 5. All of the event’s proceeds will go toward building a National Desert Storm War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Pittenger said the event — which is co-hosted by the Chamber and Bold Republic Brewing Co. — has gotten Belton some national attention for being at the forefront of the memorial fundraising effort.

Staff writer Jerry Prickett contributed to this report