Scooter gangs, outdoor projection screens and camping tents cover the sidewalks along University Avenue in Provo. Families tuck little children into sleeping bags as college students nearby watch a movie projected onto a sheet suspended between two trees. It’s not a typical scene, but this is no typical weekend.
Hundreds will be saving their spots for the Grand Parade this weekend, part of America’s Freedom Festival. Over the next few days, the Freedom Festival will offer many entertainment opportunities for the entire family including the Grand Parade, Freedom Days, the Freedom Run and Balloon Fest.
Jeff Smith, 25, from Highland, first camped out to save his spot for the parade three years ago.
“We reserve our spot at 4 p.m. the day before, and we have to guard it constantly,” Smith said.
The night before the parade becomes a celebration in itself as people claim their seats almost an entire day in advance.
“It’s fun watching all the people,” Smith said. “We enjoy the atmosphere and the closeness it creates among thousands of people in the area.”
The Grand Parade will take place on Monday at 9 a.m. and will follow the same route it has in previous years along University Avenue.
Freedom Days will provide an opportunity for food and entertainment throughout the weekend. At various times Friday, Saturday and Monday, Freedom Days features free entertainment by many local musicians and more than 100 vendors.
“We will have booths with all kinds of food, crafts and even a chance to take pictures with Star Wars characters,” said Lynda Draper, vendor organizer.
The Freedom Run is projected to be the largest to date with a projected 5,000 runners.
“It will be the biggest Freedom Run ever,” said Scott Summers, Freedom Run race director. “It’s been fun to watch it grow, but we really haven’t advertised at all. We put out no posters this year.”
It’s not too late for those wanting to join in. Registration is available online at freedomfestival.org/run, and registration will also be available the morning of the race.
The run takes place on Monday at 7 a.m. and will include a 10k, 5k and one-mile race.
The Balloon Fest will celebrate its 27th year as part of the Freedom Festival. Spectators can see dozens of hot air balloons take flight and compete in competitions. Also a free event, the Balloon Fest will take place at Bulldog Field at 1100 North Freedom Blvd. at 6:30 a.m on Friday, Saturday and Monday.