Festivities start Thursday morning, with the Ferndale Volunteer Firefighters celebrating independence with an old-fashioned treat for the kids: a free ride on a gleaming fire engine, from 10 a.m. to noon (call 786-9515 for information).

The Ferndale Chamber of Commerce organizes the annual Fourth of July Parade down Main Street starting at noon, with participants lining up on Fifth Street starting at 10 a.m. (Entry forms are available athttp://www.victorianferndale.com/events.htm.)

The celebration continues with the Ferndale Rotary Club cooking up an Independence Day picnic after the parade. Hot dogs or burgers (including a veggie burger option), potato salad, beans and Humboldt Creamery ice cream with chocolate syrup are included; a hot dog meal is $4 and a burger meal is $6.

At 3 p.m., check out the patriotic musical theater at the Ferndale Repertory Theatre (call 786-5483 for tickets).

Then head over to the Humboldt County Fairgrounds for the evening festival. The Bear River Casino organizes the fireworks display for the family to watch from the grandstands, but there's plenty to do before dark. Gates open at 5 p.m. with food vendors, beer and other beverages, a bounce house for the kids and entertainment before the fireworks show. There's no admission charge; parking is $5.