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Community Packs Downtown For 2022 Independence Day Celebration

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Celebration Plaza was packed Saturday night for the 2022 Independence Day Celebration, hosted Saturday, July 2, by Sulphur Springs Symphony League for the 30th year. In fact, families, couples, friends, small groups and individuals lined the sidewalks and parking lots for 2-3 block in all directions around the square with chairs, blankets, snacks, drinks and glow-in-the-dark necklaces and lighted wands for the kids.

Northeast Texas Symphony Orchestra put on an impressive show, as always, with high caliber musicians lead by Dr. Doug Backenhus conducting.

Later in the evening, Ella Edge served as guest conductor, an honor attained by her parents who placed the highest bid for the at the annual Symphony League Auction last November.

The weather cooperated, dropping in to the 80s by performance time, with even a bit of a breeze to help make the humidity bearable. It was the perfect evening for a cool drink of water and some excellent music designed to celebrate and remember those who have served and are serving our country, keeping it safe and protecting our freedoms.

Each branch of service was recognized during the Armed Forces Salute. Those in attendance clapped in appreciation for the veterans, some sitting in the chairs placed in front of the stage, others further out around the square.

Before each song of medley selected, Bakenhus gave a little background on it, the meaning behind it, giving context and history to the patriotic and marching anthems. In addition to the traditional patriotic songs such as The Star Spangled Banner, America Salute, God Bless America, and Starts & Stripes, the program included an arrangement of “We Shall Overcome,” a Negro spiritual first sung by slaves working the fields in the nation’s early days, then embraced by Civil Rights demonstrators in the 1950s and 1960s; as well as Hoedown from Rodeo, a ballet celebrating the American West; and Ashokan Farewell, a waltz written in the1980s that was used as the title theme for PBS miniseries The Civil War.

There were a few soloists within the program. Bill Owens played on keyboard and was accompanied in singing America the Beautiful by a song trio, Ray Charles-style. Trumpet player Kelley Fletcher, who has earned success as an educator and in her own band. A principal member of NETSO was featured in two numbers.

SSSL member Adam Teer served as master of ceremony and Tom Sellers, CEO of underwriter Alliance Bank, was invited to provide the welcome for the program. The program also credited Cassie Long Chenault, Kristin Ramsey Thompson and Samantha Owens Vance for leading hte National Anthem. Paul Harvey, CEO of CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital Sulphur Springs, another underwriter for the event, expressed appreciation for being part of the event and offered water for any who needed it then asked a chaplain to give the invocation.

The July 2, 2022, concert concluded with Bakenhus asking the “Hopkins County Mass Community Chorus” to join in the singing of God Bless America, as the first spray of fireworks lit the sky downtown in celebration of Independence Day.

Collin, Emily and Noah Simpson were slated to be the honorary Fireworks detonators, a privilege the adults’ in their lives secured with the high bid at the November SSSL Auction. However, the children fell ill and were unable to attend, so two others were asked to step in for them. The Simpson youths will then have the honor of officially pushing the button for the official count for the fireworks detonation, according to Teer.

Recognized as the third underwriter, along with the Symphony League thanks to funds raised at the annual auction, was GSC Enterprises/Grocery Supply Company.

As musicians packed up their instruments, the sky lit up with a bursts of brilliant red, green, blue, white and yellow during a pyrotechnics show several attending noted was better than last year.

Author: Faith Huffman

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