East Texas lights up the sky for the Fourth of July - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

East Texas lights up the sky for the Fourth of July

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) -

America’s biggest celebration of Independence is almost here, and patriotism is on full display across East Texas. Celebrating freedom is the central part of most festivities; but what is a Fourth of July celebration without hotdogs, watermelon, and a great fireworks finale? Several cities in the area are preparing for annual celebrations, some that date back for years.

Interested in watching fireworks light up the sky elsewhere in East Texas? See a list of events here.

The City of Jefferson is no stranger to history. Not only was the town named after Thomas Jefferson, a draftsman of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, but the town was a major river port to the West for products and immigrants. After the arrival of the first steamboat, Jefferson became a boom town where many pioneers set foot on Texas soil. Today, the city of Jefferson claims to take you on a journey back in time to a bustling 19th-century riverport. For Jefferson’s Fourth of July celebration, history comes to life in a town where the past is literally all around you.

“Our Fourth of July event paints a picture of Normal Rockwell portrait the perfect Small town. The whole town is decorated in Red, White & Blue,” says Missy Baldwin, Chairman of the Jefferson Salutes America event.

The morning of, members of the community pitch in to help decorate for the event. Homemade cakes and pies are prepared for the annual Liberty cake auction, which helps raise money for Jefferson’s Carnegie Library Children’s Program. It’s not your ordinary bake sale either. Baldwin says cakes have sold for $4,000 and up!

“It’s pretty exciting to watch and people get really excited when those high dollar cakes get donated back and sold by the piece to make even more money for the Library,” says Baldwin.

The event is entirely community funded. Nearly 400 people are involved in financial planning the event every year.

“This is Truly a Community-wide event, with full community participation and contributions that have continued to support the event. We believe that Jefferson Salutes America demonstrates what our community is all about Tradition, Family & Friends,” says Baldwin.

This year’s event is set for Tuesday, July 4. The event begins with the old fashion children’s parade, where more than 50 plus kids of all ages are entered in parade categories. Bicycles, tricycles, strollers, and wagons are all patriotically decorated. The Shreveport Metropolitan Band will entertain the crowd and play old patriotic tunes in the old fashion Bandstand.

Extreme Pyrotechnics from Mansfield, Texas will provide the fireworks for the big grand finale of the night, 45 minutes of non-stop bursts of light over the historic town.  Baldwin says nearly 15,000 people are expected to attend this year’s fireworks show.

“Jefferson Salutes America may not be as old as the history of our town but we believe that the Tradition of our event is as rich in the tradition as the history of our town,” says Baldwin.

Other cities are also planning grand-scale celebrations. If you’re planning on celebrating the holiday in Tyler, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church is promising an evening of fun. The Celebrate America Show will be held Monday, June 3, at the church.

This year’s event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will feature live music by a local band, “The Tuxedo Cats.” Illusionist Joe Schmidt will also perform shows in the KidStreet Theatre every half hour. The event will also offer free hot dogs and snow cones; bounce houses and face-painting will also be free fun for the family to enjoy. Towards the end of the evening, a tribute to the military and fireworks show will begin at dusk.

“This event started 15 years ago as a youth fireworks night and developed over the years into what we believe is the best fireworks show in East Texas, if not the state,” says Debbie Hooten, Business Administrator for Pleasant Hill.

Hooten says prepping for the event is done months in advance. Members give monetary donations and donate their time to make the event a success.

“They participate in workdays, bring water, stuff hot dogs, and donate their resources to keep this a free event to the public,” says Hooten.

 Members fund the event and the church receives sponsorships from area businesses. This year, East Texas Pyro is providing the fireworks. The dynamite show is scheduled to last 20 to 25 minutes and will begin at dusk.

So, what’s the best thing about the Celebrate America Night? According to Pastor Dr. Ron Herring, it’s about honoring the price that’s been paid for this nation to have its freedom.

“This event is our opportunity to recognize not only our founders who had the forethought to give us such liberty, but also the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for those freedoms.”

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