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Heber Valley draws Independence Day revelers from near and far

Midway youngsters hit the streets on bikes and in patriotic attire for the Fourth.
Grace Doerfler / KPCW
Midway youngsters hit the streets on bikes and in patriotic attire for the Fourth.

In Heber City and Midway, thousands gathered to celebrate the country’s birthday with a full slate of events.

Fourth of July celebrations in the Heber Valley began just after the sun came up and were scheduled to continue until after the sun went down.

The morning started with a 5k and 10k race from downtown Heber to downtown Midway and back. In Heber’s City Park, runners and community members gathered for breakfast.

Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce public relations manager Jessica Turner said Independence Day events are drawing larger crowds every year.

“It really started off as just a small community event to give residents in the area something to do to help celebrate the Fourth of July,” she said. “We are already seeing record numbers in comparison to last year. I think it’s going to be a great day.”

Visitors from elsewhere in Utah and even elsewhere in the country joined Heber residents for the festivities.

Salt Lake City resident Devin Ashby said he and relatives from as far away as Arizona and Oregon made the trip to Heber to enjoy the holiday as a family.

“The thing we’re most looking forward to is just spending time with family and remembering the freedoms we have in this country,” he said. “In a world that has a lot of division, I think it’s good to be together and remember what binds us and what common beliefs we share.”

And Jen Hatch, her daughters, and their grandparents traveled from the Saratoga Springs area to spend the holiday in Heber.

“We came and watched the cute little parade through the town and we had some pancake breakfast – it was fabulous,” Hatch said. “And now we’re going to take off to Midway and go get the girls’ faces painted and see what’s going on over there.”

The girls’ grandmother, Mary Hansen, said the family decided to come to Heber because they heard good things about the town’s plans for the Fourth.

“I mean, look at this gentleman dressed up in a colonial outfit – way cool,” she said.

She meant Heber City Manager Matt Brower, who donned a George Washington costume to lead the morning’s patriotic walk.

“Heber is the epicenter for celebrating our country’s birthday,” he said.

Brower said he expected around 8,000 people to join in the holiday celebrations over the course of the day – about double the size of last year’s crowd.

Meanwhile in Midway, the streets were crowded with children doing a patriotic bicycle ride. Almost every bike was wrapped in shiny red, white and blue tinsel.

And the Swiss Misses, a group of girls who represent Midway, attended the celebration in traditional Swiss outfits and flower crowns.

Ten-year-olds Claire Gardner and Emery Drennan said they enjoyed representing the town for the holiday.

“My favorite part of the Fourth of July is just everyone being together,” Gardner said. “It’s just so fun to see everyone out here.”

“My favorite part of today has been meeting everyone and telling them how much fun Midway is,” Drennan added.

More Independence Day events were scheduled throughout the afternoon and evening in the Heber Valley, from a first responders’ tug-of-war contest to a fireworks show on Memorial Hill.

More details about this year’s holiday celebrations can be found on the Heber Valley Chamber website.