Prattville – An estimated 2,500 people armed with blankets and chairs came to hear the Prattville Pops orchestra, the Prattville Chorus, and to see the fireworks extravaganza that would end another Independence Day in the city.
Richard and Robin Pogue of Prattville arrived early to set up their chairs and coolers near a goalpost. “This is our fifth year at the celebration,” Robin said. “We went to the parade and to Pratt Park this morning… now we are looking forward to the program tonight. It’s pretty hot, but there is a nice breeze blowing.”
That was the climate on the football field… hot with a slight wind. But, no one seemed to mind. Food vendors were set up and nachos, hot dogs, popcorn, cotton candy, and soft drinks were sold.
Prattville Activities Director Kellie Cook would not even dare to speculate how many people showed up at Stanley-Jensen Stadium on Saturday night. “I know that there are a lot of people here and it seems like they keep coming and coming through the gate.”
Cook also remarked that everything went smoothly this year with no obvious glitches. When asked how long it takes to put one of these celebrations together, she answered, “Well, on July 5, we start planning for next year!
About ten girls representing the Centre of Performing Arts (in the Skyline Chopping Center) walked around, with cooler in tow, and sold bottled water for a dollar. Karen Jordan is the owner of the Centre and summer classes for competitive dance begins on Monday, July 6.
Nine-year-old fourth grader Mattie Allen sang the National Anthem. She is the daughter of Josh and Mo Allen and attends Daniel Pratt Elementary School. Council President Dean Argo led everyone in prayer and Matt Lang of Colonial Bank remarked how proud he was that the bank could sponsor Prattville’s eighth annual Fourth of July celebration. All of the other sponsors were applauded also.
Mayor Jim Byard Jr. spoke about how great the fireworks were going to be and said that he had ordered a full moon for the event. He asked any family members of the 217th Military Police Company (just recently deployed to Iraq) to stand. And, lastly, the mayor said, “Thank you guys for being here. Happy 233rd birthday to our country!”
Eighteen-year-old Lorenzo Enriquez plays the bass drum in the Prattville Pops orchestra. “I don’t play the drum all of the time. Most of the time I attend band practices and concerts in order to drive my sister who just turned sixteen. She plays the flute.”
John Paul Jones (who lives in Montgomery) has conducted the orchestra for the past two years and before that he played the trombone in that very same band. Among other patriotic tunes, the orchestra played a medley of military themed songs for each branch of service (Air Force, Army, Marine, Navy, and Coast Guard).
Chris King, the band director at Prattville Junior High, led the Prattville Chorus in a variety of numbers including “American Anthem,” which was heard throughout the documentary called The War. The film recounts the experiences of many individuals from four communities (Mobile, Alabama being one) as they move through the war in all three Theaters.
The chorus also sang (together with the orchestra) “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “My Country Tis of Thee,” “America,” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
King wished to honor his grandfather who just recently passed away at the age of 90. He said that his grandfather, in an infantry unit, led his troops onto the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 (D-Day). “The freedoms we have today came through the sacrifices of great men,” King said.
Near the end of the program, the mayor introduced Congressman Bobby Bright and Councilman Mike Renegar (who served in Vietnam). Then, the mayor began counting… 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2…
As the stadium darkened, the first fireworks display shot up into the sky with a burst of red and purple. For nearly twenty minutes the explosive spectacle lit up the heavens for miles around, amazing and delighting the inner child in all of us. Happy Birthday America!
Article by Melissa Parker
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