Starke Hosts First Independence Day Celebration in Decades

Starke has something completely new in store for the celebration of our nation’s independence, and it promises to keep you cool and make your heart soar. The inaugural Starke Splash Bash will take place Sunday, July 3, sponsored by the city, Bradford County School District and Funtastic Fire Brigade, which is helping organize the event. 

While annual community events for the Fourth surround the city, infrequent events in Starke have mostly been one-offs. 

City Manager Drew Mullins saw a hole that needed to be filled, and thanked city commissioners  for supporting his small vision and the volunteers — including Michael Heeder of Funtastic Fire Brigade — who helped turn it into the Splash Bash set for Sunday, July 3.

“People are hungry for things to do in Starke and Bradford County. We’re excited to partner with these organizations to make this happen for our residents, and we hope the community will join us for the celebration,” Mullins said.

The day will include food, entertainment, an opportunity to get wet and then celebrate Independence Day with patriotic performances and fireworks. It all happens at Bradford High School.

First off is the parade of golf carts, beginning at 4 p.m. Participants will gather at First Christian Church on West Call Street before the start time. Carts will head east on Jefferson Street, north at Bay, west at Center, north at Broadway, west at Adkins and then parade around the track at Bradford High School until around 5 p.m., when the festivities are scheduled to begin. 

The water park area, including water slides and a kiddie pool, will be open for play until around 7:40 p.m. Cornhole registration begins at the track at 5 p.m., and the games begin at 5:30 p.m. The vehicle cruise-in will take place outside of the stadium, with parking on Washington Street. Starke Police Department will also have multiple K9 demonstrations every 15 minutes, beginning at 5:15 through 7:15 p.m.

Hungry? Food trucks will be selling a variety of good food throughout the evening.

When the water park closes, the evening festivities begin with the introduction and recognition of the American Legion, followed by several performances from Byron Bagwell, Jaelyn Jackson and Lee Ann Purvis. Around 8:45 p.m., there will be a ceremony presenting the flags of the U.S. armed forces with musical themes. These will include the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

All active military members and veterans present will be recognized, followed by patriotic performances from the event’s talented singers. Following the national anthem, fireworks will begin around 9 p.m., and the event will conclude at 9:30.

There are multiple parking areas to meet the needs of those attending. The city is requesting everyone to respect the private residential area and not park on or block private property.

The primary parking area is at Bradford Middle School on Orange Street. Overflow parking areas include North Florida Technical College and the Bradford School District (former Starke Elementary) parking lots, with the exception of the parking lot directly across from the high school, which is reserved for handicapped parking.

Other parking areas include the Bradford County Public Library on Pratt Street and the courthouse.

Starke Splash Bash is free to attend, and the city hopes to see you there!