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Holiday reels in family fun

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Local Independence Day celebrations bring out crowds

By Robert Allen

From east to west, July 4 festivities blasted off in Gadsden County. With none of last year’s foul weather to dampen the day, a picture-perfect summer weekend unfolded to celebrate the nation’s revolutionary birth. 

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On the county’s eastern side, John Scott of Fly by Nite productions was busy presiding over an all-day concert in Havana. 

“It’s so easy for us to miss the meaning of the Fourth of July,” said Scott, explaining a deterioration of personal values and mutual respect has led to a lack of investment in community all the way up to the national level. 

The event in Havana, dubbed Vet’s Fest, directly benefited Veteran’s Village — an organization that helps former military members who may now find themselves in need of a place to stay. 

Scott sees communities such as Havana, his home, as the last stronghold for these patriotic causes. 

“Small towns are the only place where American pride is left,” said Scott. “The big cities are gone.”

The bands, backed by a giant depiction of the stars and stripes and surrounded by each military branches’ flag, were situated to be charged by the patriotic spirit of the day. The musicians played to a full park, packed from standing room by the stage to seats around the fountain. 

On the county’s western edge, Chattahoochee Main Street’s Old Fashioned Fourth of July was concurrently underway. The event, planned in conjunction with the city government, was held all day at the river landing. Games, concessions, live entertainment and the cool water all awaited the city’s visitors. 

“Man, it was great,” said Lance Clark of Clark’s DJ and Rental Services. “The kids loved it.”

Among other attractions, the local company brought an inflatable water slide, which children lined up for a chance to shoot down, over and over. 

“This is the first time in a long time we’ve had an all day event,” said Ben Chandler, executive director of Chattahoochee Main Street. “It’s a reminder of they way it was years and years ago.”

Just after the evening gray faded to black, fireworks were launched from the west bank, just across the river — close enough that through the haze of smoke lingering in the river valley, viewers could see silhouettes moving about in the red glow of the ignition flame. 

“It really brings the town together,” said Chandler. “It’s very unifying to have something like this that people take pride in. They want this to be a place people want to come.”