Following more than a year sans regular observances and events, the 29th Annual Independence Day Celebration held appropriately on Celebration Plaza in Sulphur Springs was a big hit. Many brought lawn chairs and blankets for family and friends to enjoy the military march, concert and fireworks. Others enjoyed their meals al fresco at downtown restaurants, soaking in the festive spirit and music performed by Northeast Texas Symphony Orchestra.
Officials began assembling the stage the day before, then completed it Saturday. A sound crew also worked in advance to provide a quality experience for those listening.
By the start of the fireworks event the square was filled with folks happy to be able to get together celebrate the freedom afford to United States residents. Even the water cooperated, with temperatures and humidity a bit lower by 8 p.m., and a slight breeze too.
The evening of wholesome entertainment was produced by Northeast Texas Symphony League, and dedicated in memory to the late Tom Stewart, an avid supporter of the symphony who passed away Dec. 11, 2020. NETSL Board member Adam Teer served as master of ceremony for the event. Tom Sellers, president of Alliance Bank, welcomed everyone to the event.
Hopkins County Military Coalition lead a small gathering of other veterans from Connally Street onto the square, recognizing those men and women who have ensured our freedom through their service and sacrifices. The Military Coalition then posted the colors, with the Pledge of Allegiance to the US flag lead by Sulphur Springs Mayor John Sellers. Paul Harvey, CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital Sulphur Springs CEO, offered a prayer of thanks for all to be able to meet and gather together this year to celebrate Independence Day.
KSST Radio had a booth where staff members encouraged those in attendance to register for a chance to win one of eight US flags, with winners announced during the concert by KSST Sports Director Ross Labenske and Savannah Everett, host of the morning show on KSST’s sister station KRVA Radio 107.1 Each of the eight winners received a flag, pole and mounting brackets. CMFH-SS also had a tent set up and gave away items such as hand sanitizer keyrings and information.
The Northeast Texas Symphony Orchestra, with Douglas Bakenhus as conductor, then performed a selection of patriotic music including The Star Spangled Banner, National Emblem March, Egmont Overture, We Shall Overcome, Lift Every Voice and Sing, A new Birth of Freedom, Ashokan Farewell, Joplin 2 Ragtime Dance, Sing-Along America, God Bless the USA, America the Beautiful and Start and Stripes Forever. Lending vocal talents to two of the songs were Sydnee Hawkins, and Della Cleveland and Trelandra Miles. David Woody also served as a narrator for one song.
Aria Kay Potts served as an enthusiastic guest for one song during the event; the spot is auctioned every year during the KSST/Channel 18 live Symphony League Auction. Similarly, Brayden Moreland was excited to serve as honorary fireworks detonator, pushing the lever to officially start the fireworks show which followed the concert.
While some would have liked a longer fireworks show, the overall feeling of most as they departed downtown was enjoyment of a good wholesome evening they were able to spend together as a community – something appreciated just a little bit more in 2021 after so many canceled events in 2020.
The event would not have been possible without support of several businesses, financial institutions and individuals. Hopkins County EMS had two ambulances staged just off the square to respond if needed and local firefighters also were in attendance at the event. Sulphur Springs Police Department provided officers who walked the grounds on and around downtown as a safety measure.
The next Symphony League event will be the annual auction which will be broadcast live this fall on KSST 1230 AM.