John Bartus

July Fourth has always been one of my favorite holidays. The day’s festivities are what summer is all about: cookouts, fireworks, fun and games … and remembering the reasons why and the principles upon which this nation was founded.

Once again, I am privileged to work with both my Rotary Club and the City of Marathon to help organize the day’s festivities. Suffice it to say that Marathon really does Independence Day well. It literally is our community’s party of the year.

Let’s start with the perfect location: Sombrero Beach. What better place than the shore of our tropical sea to celebrate America? Of course, no Fourth of July would be complete without a parade. This year’s parade starts at Marathon High School at 11 a.m. and heads for the beach, and will feature a number of floats and attractions. Opening ceremonies will commence at Sombrero Beach after the parade at around noon or shortly thereafter.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department has organized all sorts of fun and games for kids of all ages. And the kids should all come and check out the park’s awesome new playground equipment!

Thanks to the Rotary Club of Marathon, there will be plenty to eat and drink (burgers, hot dogs, soda, water, beer, snow cones, etc.). Proceeds from food and beverage sales will go to the charitable work of the Rotary Club for scholarships and more. Please come hungry and thirsty – there’s no need to bring your own food and drinks. The prices are more than reasonable, and you can lend a true helping hand as you eat and drink on the Fourth.

Probably the best part about our celebration is the location – a tropical beach park! Coconut palms swaying in the breeze … sunny skies and sandy shores … it’s what the “salt life” is really all about. And admission is absolutely free! With the beach right there, a cool, refreshing dip in the Atlantic is but a few steps away.

Live music will echo throughout the beach, beginning with songs from Adrienne Z and yours truly around 1 p.m. Then, the ever-popular Lady A Band, with Ric “Bluesfuze” Arra, will rock out from 5 p.m. until the evening’s fireworks sky concert.

I always hear people talking about how awed they are after seeing our community’s fireworks display. Every year gets better and better, and people who see them for the first time are amazed at how a town our size is able to put on such a fabulous display.

The great news is that chief pyrotechnician Randy Mearns has another great show lined up this year. The July Fourth sky concert will begin just after sunset, with fireworks timed to light up the sky in synchronization with a special patriotic musical program that will be heard across the beach. Each year, there is a special tribute to our veterans and active duty military personnel in the sky concert.

Whether you watch from the beach, or from a boat anchored just offshore (as so many boaters do), you’re in for a heck of a show. The City of Marathon and the Marathon Fire Department step up to the plate year after year to make sure that our fireworks are second to none.

I’m sure that there are more than a few people from Rotary and the city who feel the same way. I can’t imagine a better way for a community to get together and celebrate our nation’s birthday. If you want to have one of the best July Fourth experiences anywhere, then I’ll see you Thursday (July Fourth) on Sombrero Beach!

  • Catch John live Wednesday at Dockside, most Thursdays at Sparky’s Landing, this Friday with Jade Storm at Lorelei, and Sundays at Skipjack Tiki Bar. Find his music anywhere you download or stream your music. •

John Bartus
Very few towns or cities could ever claim that their Mayor was a smokin' hot guitar player. The island city of Marathon in the Florida Keys is one of those towns. While politics is a temporary call to service, music is a life sentence. John Bartus, a more-than-four-decade full-time professional musician, singer, and songwriter, continues to raise the bar with his groundbreaking solo acoustic show. It’s easy to catch John on one of his more than 200 shows a year throughout the Keys on his Perpetual Island Tour. His CD releases include After The Storm, Keys Disease 10th Anniversary Remaster, and Live From the Florida Keys Vol. 2. John’s music is available wherever you download or stream your music.