TOP STORY >> Fourth of July
Leader staff writer
Hundreds filled Jan Crow Memorial Stadium in Jacksonville Friday night as they were entertained by songs and fireworks at the “Home of the Brave” Patriotic Spectacular in Jacksonville.
“First of all, it’s a celebration of our country and then, the Cub Scouts (Jacksonville Pack 819) are going to clean up after it’s over,” said Judy Van Newkirk.
One family attending the holiday weekend event is a newcomer to Jacksonville. “Actually, we just moved here about a week ago from Miami (Florida), and we’re out here to see what’s going on in the community,” said Shannon Feloss.
When the crowd heard the song, “I’m Proud to Be an American,” young and old stood up, cheered and waved their arms as balloons of red, white and balloon floated into the air.
The crowd of nearly 500 watched as red, white and blue rockets, sparklers and firecrackers exploded into the night’s sky.
Celebrating Independence Day early, under the supervision of Hubert Alexander and Ron Fejfar, the crowd saw bright and noisy fireworks of all kinds lit up the night sky.
Jacksonville leaders and officials portrayed some of the nation’s founding fathers. Thad Gray of the Jacksonville Water Commission assumed the role of Benjamin Franklin; Gary Fletcher, a Jacksonville alderman, donned a top hat for his role as Abe Lincoln, and Bob Stroud, another alderman, did his best impersonating John Adams.
The city also honored many of its best, including members of the 314th Maintenance Group, who have helped with hurrican recovery efforts.
Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim served as narrator. Local singers and choir members with the 75 Voice Choir and Youth Community Choir entertained with patriotic songs for this fifth annual show.
A number of soloists performed, including Claire Vann, Amber Mitchell, Sidney Piggee and Robby and Brandon Francis.
On Thursday, Angie Mitchell, one of the event organizers, was busy preparing for Friday night’s festivities.
“Several churches, businesses and the city are involved,” she said.
Mitchell gave credit to Jack-sonville High School personnel who allow the stadium’s use for the event. She said that Ted Bland, Dickie Penn and his crew built the actual set being used tonight.
“Asa Hutchinson will be presenting our community hero awards,” Mitchell said before the event.
This year’s recipients were Regina Boyd, a police officer; Mark Looney, a firefighter; Dr. J. Dale Calhoon and Mary Scruggins, an X-ray technician.
“Mark won’t be here…he’s in Iraq right now, but someone will accept on his behalf,” Mitchell said.
Among those being included in the Fallen Heroes portion of Friday’s event were Dr. Donald Griggs, a well-known dentist who served as a Jacksonville parks commissioner. Griggs died June 11.
Rev. Robert Lewis who served for more than two decades as a Jacksonville alderman will not be honored this year, according to Mitchell.
He died on June 14.