With the Fourth of July just around the corner, Sherman and Denison have been making preparations for celebratory events for much of the last year.

The gates at Pecan Grove Park in Sherman will open Tuesday at 4 p.m. for Sherman’s “Lights on the Lake” celebration with headliner 38 Special. In Denison, the 31st annual Fourth of July fireworks celebration will be held on Independence Day at Forest Park and Munson Stadium.

Tourism/Main Street Manager Sarah McRae said this year’s “Lights on the Lake” event is the biggest one yet.

“This is the most we’ve ever put into this one particular event, and we really hope that people enjoy it,” McRae said. “We’re just really excited to get to bring this level of entertainment for free to people in our community to bring people together. And to kind of kick off the chain of Independence Day celebrations, we get to be the first one. Then you still get to go do whatever you want to do on the fourth.”

Along with the performance by 38 Special, there will be food vendors at Pecan Grove Park, and the evening will be capped off with a fireworks presentation. McRae said Sherman also has the Air National Guard Band of the Southwest opening up at 5:30 p.m. and adding a patriotic element to the early part of the day.

“They saw our event online and that it looked like a big deal,” McRae said of how the approximately 33 piece orchestra got involved in the festivities. “I’ve always wanted to do something like that and incorporate that into our event.”

She said the Air National Guard Band will be performing orchestral versions of classic songs and patriotic songs to suit the event, possibly with some local singers.

In addition to the music and food, the purchase of a $5 wristband will get children the opportunity to play on bounce houses and inflatable water slides in the kids’ alley all day.

“And those are all supervised by lifeguards and employees,” McRae said. “It’s just a whole fun kids’ alley area beside just the natural park elements that can obviously be played on. It just gives people something to do once they get in the park.”

McRae said the hard start time for the “Lights on the Lake” fireworks show is 9:30 p.m. and it’s scheduled to last for 16 minutes.

“They always put together a more exciting show for us — we use Illumination Fireworks out of Dallas and they’re sponsored by Landmark Bank,” McRae said. “It’s going to be a big, beautiful fireworks show and Landmark actually chose the soundtrack we’ll be putting it to this year. We like it to be choreographed to the music, where the pops accent the downbeat. It’s really fun.”

Sherman also plans to have about 500 more parking spots than last year.

“We’d had some rain last year the day before, so a lot of that turned into muddy unusable space for us,” McRae said, adding there will be a clearly marked handicap lot. “That’s always something we look to improve on. We’ll have twice as many golf carts to help transport elderly, really small children and handicapped.”

Denison Main Street Director Donna Dow said the Forest Park and Munson Stadium show on the Fourth of July will be “action-packed.”

“It’s going to be around 30 minutes long, which is a really nice length for this kind of display,” Dow said. “It’s definitely worth the effort to come.”

Entertainment for the Denison event will be provided by the Cheri King Band at 7 p.m. with fireworks scheduled to follow at dusk.

“This is local talent that have played a variety of music venues in this area,” Dow said. “Cheri King’s vocals are great. She really has a dynamic voice. She has played ‘Music on Main.’ She and the band are amazing.”

Those wishing to enter Munson Stadium may not bring lawn chairs or coolers. These items are allowed in the Forest Park area. In Forest Park, there will be kids’ activities, as well as on site vendors.

“We will have roasted corn, shaved ice and other food vendors,” Dow said. “There will also be the Katy train doing rides and a bounce house for children.”

Hoping to keep patriotism at the forefront of people’s minds throughout the celebration, Dow said that veterans will be recognized.

“We want to be cognizant about the music that we play during the fireworks display because this is a Fourth of July event,” she said. “It will be patriotic and the music will be simulcast on Katy Country, so even if you are not in the stadium, you will have music with the presentation. The music will have parts of important speeches in it. It is important for us to do this for the community because we want to remember and celebrate American history with all.”