Music, pageantry and fun… City celebrates Fourth with a bang
Published 9:37 am Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Twenty one shots rang out as part of the Independence Day Celebration’s opening ceremony at the Covered Bridge Park Saturday.
After the shells had fallen to the ground, John Clark made sure to collect them and distribute them to people who made the community event possible.
“I just wanted to make sure that everyone who wanted one got one,” he said. “It’s a great way for them to remember today.”
Some members of the Overmountain East Tennessee Cadets, who presented the colors during the ceremony, were excited to show off their souvenirs.
“It’s very sentimental,” said Sgt. Kaci Ritchie.
It turns out Sgt. Courtney Perkins has a collection of shells fired during another three-volley salute that was in honor of her grandfather.
“It’s a big deal to me because my papaw was a Marine,” said Perkins. “I have his shells at home.”
All of the cadets agreed that it was an honor to be a part of the event where members of the community gathered in celebration of the nation’s independence and in honor of all men and women who are or have fought for the nation’s freedom.
“It feels like we have a purpose here,” said Sgt. Jaylon Clark.
“We are getting more involved in the community,” said Perkins.
That was Parks and Recreation Director Mike Mains’ overall focus for the event — community involvement. Mains wanted to be sure to thank everyone who helped make the event a success.
“We wanted to do something big for the community,” he said. “Unfortunately the weather has affected the overall numbers, but we feel good about it.”
Mains walked away from the event with memories galore.
A shell from the three-volley salute also made its way to Mains and he couldn’t think of a better memento.
“I was so honored he thought to give one to me,” Mains said. “I’ll put this in my office and it will always be a reminder of today.”
The event itself helped Siam resident Jennifer Tierney and her children celebrate the nation’s freedom.
“It’s a time to celebrate and reflect on the freedoms that we have,” she said. “It’s a great way to teach my kids about the cost of freedom. I’ve explained to them that freedom isn’t really free.”
The family was just beginning to make their way around to all the various activities that were offered.
Since the event takes place so close to home, the Tierneys may have found a new annual holiday tradition.
“This is our first year,” she said. “It’s pretty impressive for all the rain.”
Stoney Creek resident Emily Smith was just driving around with her mom, Maryann, looking for something to do when they heard music coming from the new stage.
“That’s my favorite part so far,” Smith said. “We came here to celebrate our great country.”
One family made a trip from Jonesborough to be a part of the celebration. When Brittany Huffine found out about the Little Miss Firecracker Pageant, she thought it would be a neat experience for her daughter Addison.
“We just wanted her to have some fun,” Huffine said. “She really loves doing things like this.”
Contestants were asked to wear their most patriotic attire for a chance to walk across the stage.
A total of eight girls — Sidnee Bryant, Noelle Chambers, Xandi Crockett, Addison Huffine, Farrah James, Greenlee Malone, Nevaeh Vestal and Lilly Ward — signed up for the pageant.
The winner of the Tiny Miss Firecracker pageant was Lilly Ward. Some girls blew kisses and waved to the crowd, but the judges said Ward’s salute to all the soldiers in attendance won them over.
Nevaeh Vestal took home the title of Little Miss Firecracker. Her personality was evident by her choice to show off her patriotic cowboy hat, winning smile and great attitude.
A bike parade was another way for children to get creative and show off their patriotism.
Savana Burrow was the overall winner. She dressed up like Uncle Sam and turned her mountain bike into a glittering display of red, white and blue.
“She used props from a photobooth,” said Renee Burrow, Savana’s mom. “It was her idea to tape them on her face.”
Last year, Burrow took home second place in the bike parade. Burrow loves the event because it’s a chance to spend time with her daughter and also develop her daughter’s already inspiring sense of creativity.
“I’m very proud of her,” she said. “She just loves to get out here and she’s very, very artistic.”
Despite the rain, the event delivered everything it promised with free watermelon, $1 hotdogs, face painting, balloon animals, live music, inflatables, an Elizabethton Twins ball and bat signing station and the pageant.
“Even with the weather as bad as it is, you can still see that people are enjoying these things,” Mains said. “If we made one child happy or created a memory for someone, then we’ve done our job.”