Today’s news:

A star−spangled salute to independence

This Independence Day, Brooklynites will proudly show their true colors, marking the nation’s birthday with a parade, a picnic and probably the world’s most famous competitive eating event.

The borough’s annual Fourth of July Parade will actually take place several days in advance of the holiday. Sponsored by the Long Island Assembly # 703, Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, it will kick off at noon on Saturday, June 27th, at 13th Avenue and 66th Street, with marchers heading along the avenue to 86th Street, where the Archbishop John Hughes Council # 481 of the Knights of Columbus have their headquarters.

The honorees, this year, are Monsignor Ronald Marino, and Thomas Neve, and the grand marshal is Jerry Cardinal.

At 104, the parade is likely the oldest Independence Day Parade in the city. It has taken place in Bay Ridge for about the past decade. Previously, it had been held in Park Slope.

On Saturday, July 4th, the second annual Greater Bay Ridge Fourth of July Picnic and Concert will be held at the 68th Precinct Baseball Field, 83rd Street and Shore Road.

The picnic, which will run from noon to 9 p.m., will feature a plethora of family fun options, including rides and sprinklers, games, raffles, and lots of music. Food will be sold, though picnic−goers can also pack their own hampers full of goodies.

The tentative lineup of performers includes Pill Hill Radio (12:30 − 1:10 p.m.), Lucky 13 (1:30 − 2:10 p.m.), High Tides (2:30 − 3:00 p.m.), The Ridge (3:20 − 4:00 p.m.), John Lepore & The Silver Falcons (4:20 − 5:00 p.m.), The Rockinghams (5:20 − 6:00 p.m.), Prodigal Child (6:20 − 7:00 p.m.), Frankie Marra & His Band (7:20 − 8:00 p.m.), and Frankie Marra & His Friends Jam Session (8:20 − 9:00 p.m.).

All proceeds will benefit the 68th Precinct Baseball League, CERT1NYC and BRAVO.

Last year, over 1,000 people attended the free event, recalled Marra, who is one of its prime sponsors. This year, he said, “We’re expecting over 2,000 people.

“We’re hoping it gets bigger and bigger every year,” Marra went on. “It’s a great Bay Ridge event.”

At high noon, in Coney Island, this year’s hot dog eating champion will be crowned, in the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. The competition takes place outside the eatery, at Surf Avenue and Stillwell Avenues.

The highlight of the hotly anticipated competition will be the rematch between Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi; in 2008, Chestnut beat Kobayashi in overtime, after the two competitors tied, downing 59 hot dogs during the stomach−churning 10−minute gorge−a−thon. In 2007, Chestnut first beat six−time−champ Kobayashi, swallowing 66 franks and rolls during the short but tense competition, and reclaiming the mustard yellow belt for the United States.

“Nothing represents summer and the Fourth of July like the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog−Eating Contest,” Wayne Norbitz, president and COO of Nathan’s Famous, said of the event, which first was held in 1916.

Two free Prospect Park events round out the schedule for Independence Day. From noon to 5 p.m., on Saturday, July 4th and Sunday, July 5th, youngsters can learn about America’s national bird, the eagle, at the park’s Audubon Center, which will be featuring “The Eagle as Icon.”

To get to the Audubon Center, enter the park at Lincoln Road and Ocean Avenue and follow the directional arrows. For further information, log onto www.prospectpark.org.

In addition, the Lefferts House will provide a window onto the past for children and their families, who will have the opportunity to mark the nation’s 233rd birthday in the fashion of the 18th century, wearing plumed hats they’ve fashioned themselves. Kids will also have a chance to experience “the right stuff,” Revolutionary War style, using reproduction quill pens to sign a copy of the Declaration of Independence. The event begins at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 4th.

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